Perhaps the biggest disappointment, though, is Heggie’s music. It can be lyrical at times, but it is unwaveringly the same throughout, regardless of the emotional or narrative content of scenes. It is often two-dimensional and misses opportunities to communicate directly to the audience at nearly every turn. It sometimes felt that you could swap out the music for any scene with any other scene and one would hardly know the difference. Oh, there is the predictable storm music, and the speed picks up a bit when the whale arrives, but there is little in the music that would ever suggest the sea. Moby-Dick has water, water everywhere, but not a drop to hear.
This sounds just like what little I remember of Dead Man Walking, where the best music was in Frederica von Stade's aria and a spiritual sung by Susan Graham written by someone other than Heggie. I like what I've heard of Heggie's songs, but I just don't understand why he gets opera commissions. His music is too anonymous, too undramatic, too ordinary for setting the extraordinary.
Update:Steve Smith, writing in the Times, was more positive, though he hints that the music has a few misses.