Release Date: 12 January, 2018
Great Scott is the first full-length opera by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally since Dead Man Walking in 2000. It was commissioned by The Dallas Opera and is co-produced with San Diego Opera.
The world premiere was Oct 30, 2015 at the Winspear Opera House with a starry cast that included Joyce DiDonato, Ailyn Pérez, Frederica von Stade, Nathan Gunn, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Kevin Burdette, Michael Mayes and Rodell Rosel.
It was conducted by Patrick Summers and directed by Jack O’Brien with sets and costumes by Bob Crowley, lighting by Brian MacDevitt and projections by Elaine J. McCarthy.
Based on an original story by McNally, Great Scott is set in a large American city that has a respected but struggling opera company and a thriving professional football team. International opera star Arden Scott has returned to her hometown to save American Opera, the company that launched her career, but the opening night performance of the long-lost opera she discovered (Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompei) falls on the same night as the home football team’s first national championship (Go Grizzlies!). The fate of the company hangs in the balance as Arden is forced to consider the sacrifices she has made and discovers that true greatness is a matter of heart.
Superstar mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who prompted Michael Church of The Guardian (U.K.) to write, “No other singer could match what this blonde bombshell from Kansas does, marrying coloratura with the serene liquidity of birdsong to an expressiveness of heart-stopping beauty,” leads a brilliant all-star cast that includes soprano Ailyn Pérez, praised by the San Diego News Network for her “big, powerful, beautiful, lyrical and endlessly supple voice,” as Tatyana Bakst, a fiercely ambitious young singer from Eastern Europe, eager to assume the mantle of stardom—as quickly as possible.
The cast also includes the legendary Frederica von Stade as Mrs. Edward “Winnie” Flato, the founder and chief benefactor of the American Opera Company, who also happens to be married to the owner of the Super Bowl-bound local football team. Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “Even if she were not one of the great singers of our day, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade could probably draw a full house…eager just to be in her presence and watch her be herself. She’s that enchanting.”
In the role of architect Sid Taylor, the man from Arden Scott’s past who might not be content to remain there, is opera heart-throb Nathan Gunn, “a vivid, appealing stage presence, with that gorgeous, well-focused baritone” (Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News); a singer who most recently dazzled Dallas Opera audiences as clever Figaro in The Barber of Seville and as the mysterious Lodger in TDO’s highly praised 2013 revival of Dominick Argento’s The Aspern Papers.
Rounding out the Great Scott cast is counter-tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo in his company debut as a no-nonsense stage manager and longtime friend of Arden Scott. Mr. Costanzo possesses, “the kind of high-voltage, high-register male singing that comes once in a generation” (Ken Smith, Musical America).
Versatile bass Kevin Burdette, attracting attention for his “large powerful voice with a burnished robust sound” and “a vibrant personality” (Opera Today) performs the dual roles of conductor Eric Gold and The Ghost of Vittorio Bazzetti, the composer of Rosa Dolorosa, the long-lost, never-performed bel canto opera being championed by Arden. Tenor Garrett Sorenson portrays Anthony Candolino and baritone Michael Mayes sings the role of Wendell Swann—both in their Dallas Opera debuts.
Wielding a voluptuous timbre and a tremendous top D, Pérez’s Tatyana is a vixen with as many virtues as vices. As the story progresses, the relentlessness with which Tatyana vamps her way along the path to stardom gradually hints that she is a woman with her own demons. Her singing of the national anthem at the Super Bowl is to a certain degree a Pyrrhic victory—a contest without a prize. Though Heggie’s music for the character is daunting, Tatyana is a quintessential ‘party rôle,’ and, liberated from the necessity of carrying the weight of operatic drama upon her shoulders, Pérez is enchanting, singing with unforced élan.
Joseph Newsome – Voix des Arts
…it’s easy to spot the star turns … Ailyn Pérez has a ball as an east European upstart singing The Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl …
Geoff Brown – The Times
As the overbearing upstart Bakst, soprano Ailyn Pérez steals the show with her consistently beautiful, glamorous singing ...