Release date: 9/12/2012

Jay Hunter Morris to Sing the Role of Captain Ahab in All Performances of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's Moby-Dick, Replacing Ben Heppner in His Previously Announced Performances

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San Francisco Opera announces a casting change for the Company’s production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick at the War Memorial Opera House, October 10–November 2, 2012. American tenor Jay Hunter Morris, who was last seen at San Francisco Opera in the title role of Wagner’s Siegfried as a part of the Company’s 2011 Ring cycle, will now sing the role of Captain Ahab in all eight performances, replacing tenor Ben Heppner, who has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons.
“It is with regret I announce today that Ben Heppner has withdrawn from our Moby-Dick production,” stated San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley. “Ben is a distinguished artist with a great history with this Company and we respect his decision, wishing him the very best. However, we are fortunate to have another talented tenor already scheduled to sing Ahab in the final two performances and we welcome the opportunity to now present Jay Hunter Morris for the entirety of the production.”
Jay Hunter Morris most recently made a triumphal appearance at San Francisco Opera in the title role of Siegfried, stepping in at late notice to replace the originally scheduled tenor. He has previously appeared to critical acclaim as Captain Ahab in Adelaide, Australia and San Diego, where wrote of him: “the fiery brilliance of his resplendent upper range captured both Ahab’s inner strength and demonic possession.” Morris made his Company debut as Mitch in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire in 1998; he also created roles in San Francisco Opera’s world premiere productions of Heggie’s first opera, Dead Man Walking (2000) and John Adams’ Doctor Atomic (2005). The Texas native’s other Company appearances include Števa (Jenůfa), Walther (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Lykov (The Tsar’s Bride), and roles in Louise, Saint François d’Assise, and Doktor Faust. Other recent engagements include a widely acclaimed portrayal of Siegfried at the Metropolitan Opera in their 2012 Ring cycle; Florestan (Fidelio) with Portland Opera; Tristan (Tristan und Isolde) with Welsh National Opera; and Erik (Der Fliegende Holländer) in Atlanta; Seattle; Santiago, Chile; and Sydney.
Moby-Dick is composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer’s new adaptation of Herman Melville’s classic meditation on man and the sea. Now making its first appearance in the Bay Area, this San Francisco Opera co-commission has previously been presented by the Dallas Opera, Calgary Opera, San Diego Opera and the State Opera of South Australia. Joining Jay Hunter Morris will be tenor Stephen Costello as Greenhorn (Ishmael), baritone Morgan Smith as Starbuck and Samoan bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu as Queequeg. Conducted by San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers, this co-production features innovative set designs by Robert Brill and is directed by Leonard Foglia.  Moby-Dick runs for eight performances from October 10 through November 2.