A Whale of an Opera

Sometimes an obsession goes too far. Pittsburgh Opera continues its 2017-2018 season with Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s critically acclaimed opera Moby-Dick. The opera is based on the novel of the same name by Herman Melville. The performances mark the Pittsburgh premiere of the opera and the debut of a new production co-produced by Utah Opera and Pittsburgh Opera.

The opera tells the tale of Captain Ahab, a man obsessed with revenge as he hunts the white whale that previously took off his leg. Ahab drags the whole crew of the Pequod along for a journey at sea that seems quite futile. Will his crew blindly follow him out of duty to their captain or could mutiny be on the horizon?

To learn more about Jake Heggie’s struggle trying to flesh out the character of Ahab and how working on this opera changed his compositional style, check out this interview with journalist Sean Martinfield. For a sneak listen of excerpts from the opera, go to the Pittsburgh Opera’s site  and click on “Season Audio Preview.”

Explore more about Moby-Dick through these recommendations from our collection. Hope to see you at the opera!


This 2012 San Francisco Opera production was recorded live for broadcast on Great Performances (PBS). The powerful cast features Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab, Stephen Costello as Greenhorn and Morgan Smith as Starbuck.

Moby Dick

John Huston directs this classic film adaptation featuring Gregory Peck as Ahab, Richard Basehart as Ishmael and the great Orson Welles in a smaller role.

Moby Dick, or The Whale

Re-read the novel that inspired the opera or read this American classic for the first time. It is man versus whale in this tale of revenge.

Heggie and Scheer's Moby-Dick: A Grand Opera for the 21st Century

Wallace’s book takes the reader through the creation of the world premiere production by Dallas Opera in 2010. Wallace interviews Jake Heggie (composer), Gene Scheer (librettist), Patrick Summers (conductor), other members of the creative team, the principal singers and the production staff to show the process of an opera coming to life. Scheer’s libretto is included in the book and gorgeous photographs of the production appear throughout the text.