Last night was the night I’ve been waiting for for months; ever since I saw that SF Opera was putting on MOBY DICK, the opera. That’s right, I got to see Moby Dick, the opera. Overall, it was well done. Some of the performers were brilliant (particularly Morgan Smith (playing Starbuck) and Jay Hunter Morris (playing Captain Ahab)) and the music was fabulous, which is to be expected… The set was brilliant, and the use of lights and projections was incredibly creative. But I had one big problem… There was no whale. All these months I’ve looked forward to the whale! I couldn’t wait to see what they came up with for Moby Dick himself! And when it came right down to it, we had to use our imaginations like suckers.
Now, I understand that a whale would be incredibly challenging to have on stage… I totally get that. But it’s the main point of the story. It’s called MOBY DICK for a reason. Also, this wasn’t a small company’s production, this was the San Francisco Opera. If anyone can figure out how to make/pay for a whale, it’s them, right? Sigh. I had some other issues as well…
The first 30 or 40 minutes or so drag. Big time drag. I kept saying to myself, “Stay awake, you can do this. Just hold on and you’ll soon see a whale.” Good thing I didn’t know the truth or I might have left early. After you get past most of Act 1, it picks up a lot, and I found the second half much more engaging. That could be because we were getting closer and closer to see the whale that wasn’t showing up, but who knows.
I am also not 100% sold that MOBY DICK was meant to be an Opera at all. I feel like there was a lot of the story that was missing because we couldn’t be inside anyone’s head. For example… How the hell were all the whalers cool with Ahab after cruising around the ocean for over a year not catching whales, but going after some phantom? I imagine that’s dealt with better in the book. They seemed super chipper to me.
All that being said, I do think it’s worth seeing. Funny, as much as I don’t like musicals… I think I have a soft spot for Operas. Go figure! It closes this Sunday, so hurry up if you want to go!