In Great Scott, the Kansas-born mezzo-soprano, one of today’s best-loved classical singers, creates a role conceived specifically with her in mind. The character she plays, Arden Scott, just happens to be an opera star, and she is the lynchpin of what Fred Plotkin of WQXR, the USA’s leading classical music radio station, welcomed as a “deeply moving and musically brilliant work” that “should enter the standard repertory just as Heggie’s two previous masterpieces – Dead Man Walking and Moby-Dick – already have”.
Jake Heggie, who has been described as US opera’s most successful composer, chose the celebrated playwright Terence McNally as his librettist for Great Scott. The two previously collaborated on the gripping Dead Man Walking, which has become something of a modern classic since its premiere in 2000. Joyce DiDonato first performed its central role, Sister Helen Prejean, at New York City Opera in 2002 and will do so again in concert stagings in London and Madrid in January/February 2018, coinciding with the album release of Great Scott.
There’s a cunning (and witty) interplay of ideas at work here...Heggie gets to spoof the sub-Rossinian bel canto on an elaborate scale...but in so doing manages to transcend mere pastiche in the creation of genuinely elegant and beautiful lines and authentic vocal fireworks that challenge and tax DiDonato as surely as the roles in her core repertoire.