The Scene


Jake Heggie

Jake Heggie
Ellen Appel

Composer, pianist

Jake Heggie is the American composer of the operas Dead Man Walking (libretto by Terrence McNally), Moby-Dick (libretto by Gene Scheer), Great Scott (McNally), Three Decembers (Scheer), To Hell and Back (Scheer), Out of Darkness (Scheer), At the Statue of Venus (McNally) and The Radio Hour: A Choral Opera (Scheer). He is currently at work on an opera based on the classic Frank Capra movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, with librettist Gene Scheer. The work is set to have its premiere December 2, 2016 at the Houston Grand Opera, conducted by Patrick Summers and directed by Leonard Foglia. Heggie has also composed more than 250 art songs, as well as concerti, chamber music, choral and orchestral works, including his recent Ahab Symphony.

The operas – most created with the distinguished writers Terrence McNally and Gene Scheer – have been produced on five continents. Dead Man Walking has received nearly 50 productions worldwide since its San Francisco Opera premiere in 2000 and has been recorded live twice (Erato Records in 2001 and Virgin Classics in 2011). In addition to major productions throughout the USA, Dead Man Walking has been seen in Dresden, Vienna, Sydney, Adelaide, Calgary, Montreal, Cape Town, Dublin, Copenhagen, and Malmo. Moby-Dick has received seven international productions since its 2010 premiere at The Dallas Opera. It was telecast as part of Great Performances’ 40th anniversary season and that production from the San Francisco Opera was released on DVD (EuroArts). Moby-Dick received its East Coast premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It is also the subject of a book by Robert Wallace, titled Heggie & Scheer’s Moby-Dick – A Grand opera for the 21st Century (UNT Press).

Heggie was recently awarded the prestigious Eddie Medora King prize from the UT Austin Butler School of Music. A Guggenheim Fellow, he served for three years as a mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. He is also a frequent guest artist and master teacher at universities and conservatories, including Boston University, Bucknell, Cornell, The Royal Conservatory in Toronto, University of Northern Iowa, University of North Texas, University of Colorado, USC’s Thornton School, Vanderbilt University, and at festivals such as SongFest at the Colburn School, Ravinia Festival, and VISI in Vancouver.

Jake Heggie frequently collaborates as composer and pianist with some of the world’s most loved singers, including sopranos Kiri Te Kanawa, Renée Fleming, Ailyn Pérez, Talise Trevigne and Caitlin Lynch; mezzo-sopranos Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Jamie Barton, Catherine Cook and Sasha Cooke; Broadway stars Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald; tenors William Burden, Stephen Costello and Jay Hunter Morris; baritones Nathan Gunn, Morgan Smith, Bryn Terfel, Michael Mayes and Robert Orth. Directors who have championed his work include Leonard Foglia, Joe Mantello and Jack O’Brien. All of Heggie’s major opera premieres have been led by Patrick Summers; he has also worked closely with conductors John DeMain, Joseph Mechavich and Nicole Paiement.

Recent premieres have included Great Scott at The Dallas Opera, starring Joyce DiDonato, Ailyn Pérez, Frederica von Stade and Anthony Roth Costanzo – recorded live for Warner Classics; The Work at Hand: Symphonic Songs for mezzo Jamie Barton and cellist Anne Martindale Williams (Carnegie Hall and the Pittsburgh Symphony); Iconic Legacies: First Ladies at the Smithsonian, a song cycle for mezzo Susan Graham (Vocal Arts DC at the Kennedy Center); and Stop This Day and Night With Me for The King’s Singers, the 2015 Brock Commission for the American Choral Directors Association Conference.

Jake Heggie lives in San Francisco with his husband, Curt Branom.

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