Mystery score

Mystery score

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Whale of a Relief

Back in October, I wrote about Dallas Opera's upcoming production of Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick, and noted my concern about the lack of a character named Ishmael. Here's the cast list released then by Dallas:
Ben Heppner (Captain Ahab); Morgan Smith (Starbuck); Stephen Costello (Greenhorn); Jonathan Lemalu (Queequeg); Allan Glassman (Flask); Robert Orth (Stubb); Talise Trevigne (Pip); and Jonathan Beyer (Captain Gardiner).
A new press release has the following:
Ben Heppner (Captain Ahab), Morgan Smith (Starbuck) Stephen Costello (Ishmael), Jonathan Lemalu (Queequeg), Allan Glassman (Flask), Robert Orth (Stubb), Talise Trevigne (Pip) and Jonathan Beyer (Captain Gardiner)
Uh, WHEW. No gimmicks! Or if gimmicks were originally planned, they've been canned.

10 comments:

talise said...

Sorry I am not following the thread here. Greeenhorn is Ishmael. He is only referred to as Ishmael after his "transformation."
What is the basis of the dismay?
What do you mean "gimmicks?"
Please help me understand.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "only referred to as Ishmael after his transformation." That's a little worrying. Everybody in the world thinks of the narrator of the novel as Ishmael, for obvious reasons.

The initial announcement from Dallas did not list a character called "Ishmael," which led to my concern that there WAS no character called Ishmael. Follow the link above (Back in October) to see my first posting on this topic.

The absence of Ishmael from the cast suggested that perhaps there was some gimmick like the one a friend suggested privately in email: that the character was hidden in some way or would announce at the end that he was Ishmael. You could say I disliked this idea.

Robert F. Jones said...

And is the production sponsored by Starbucks?

Lisa Hirsch said...

I'm going to pretend you didn't ask that question.

Keturah said...

I'm also not quite sure what you mean by Ishmael's identity (or possible revelation of identity) a gimmick. One must remember that in the book he is both "Greenhorn" AND "Ishmael." He and his familiars are the only ones who refer to him by his given name. His superiors refer to him as "Greenhorn" throughout, just as they would any new recruit on a whaling ship.

You mention the possibility of a "gimmick" where we only find out who Ishmael is at the very end, but wouldn't it also be a "gimmick" to have him introduce himself as Ishmael from the beginning, which would put the entire play of the opera into flashback?

Lisa Hirsch said...

I do not think it would be at all a gimmick to reveal himself as Ishmael from the beginning because....everybody knows the first line of the book. Everybody.

Henry Holland said...

Enough of the Greenhorn v. Ishmael stuff. Let's talk about how badly Jake Heggie's music is going to suck.

:-P

Joe Barron said...

Well, yeah, but the first line of the damn book is "Call me Ishmael." So why don't they just take his advice and call him Ishmael, for crying outloud?

"Let's talk about how badly Jake Heggie's music is going to suck."

And not just his. I used to say that there are few things in life more spirit-crushing than European pop. Today I would have to add contemporary American opera. The pattern seemes to mine American novels and movies for libretti, which are then set it to three hours of aimless, anonymous-sounding recitative --- like Wagner, only without the boffo finales. You could just die of boredom.

Lisa Hirsch said...

> aimless, anonymous-sounding recitative

this is what I refer to as ostinatoitis.

Joe Barron said...

"ostinatoitis" --- Wonderful neologism.