‘My Moby Dick’ comes to Broad Stage

Rinde Eckert in his one-man show directed by David Schweizer, "And God Created Great Whales," at REDCAT in 2012.
Rinde Eckert in his one-man show directed by David Schweizer, “And God Created Great Whales,” at REDCAT in 2012.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Music Critic

The Los Angeles Public Library has been obsessing over “Moby Dick” lately, with celebrity readings, discussions, scientific studies, family days, film screenings and whatnot.

Its “Whatever Happened to Moby Dick?” will now wind up Saturday night with “My Moby Dick” at the Broad Stage. In what is described as a multimedia voyage, Stacy Keach, Alan Mandell, Shohreh Aghdashloo and others expect to pursue this particular literary great white whale from a variety of points of physical, metaphysical and fantastical points of view.

The director is David Schweizer, who not only has been responsible for some of Long Beach Opera’s most outrageously effective productions (Purcell’s “Indian Queen” and Thomas Adès’ “Powder Her Face”) but also directed at REDCAT two years ago Rinde Eckert’s brilliant one-man oddity “And God Created Great Whales.” In it a dementia-stricken composer tries to finish an opera based on Melville’s classic before he completely loses his memory.


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Whatever happened to “Moby Dick”? A lot in the musical world. Composers have been happily harpooning the poor white whale in opera houses and alternative spaces, on CD and TV. This has included everything from Laurie Anderson’s 1999 multiimedia “Songs and Stories from ‘Moby Dick’ ” to Raul Gehringer’s 2004 children’s opera, “The Tale of Moby Dick,” for the Vienna Boys Choir.

More recently, Bernard Herrmann’s unjustly neglected 1938 cantata, “Moby Dick,” finally got a gripping modern recording on Chandos. And Jake Heggie had a popular success three years ago when Dallas Opera premiered his “Moby Dick.” San Francisco Opera’s production of it given last year will be released later this month on DVD and Blu-ray and then broadcast Nov. 1 on PBS.

“Moby” mania reaches Poland next. Eugeniusz Knapik, a pupil of Górecki, has also written an opera based on “Moby Dick.” It will have its premiere this June in Warsaw at the prestigious Teatr Wielkl.


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