DAILY CAMERA: Top composer Jake Heggie workshops new opera at CU
According to Leigh Holman, director of the University of Colorado Eklund Opera Program, Jake Heggie is “the most important living opera composer in the world right now.”
And she stands by that superlative. It’s hard to argue with that when considering that his biggest hit, the 2000 score “Dead Man Walking,” has been recorded twice for major commercial labels.
His operas have been produced by companies throughout the United States and the world. His 2010 score “Moby-Dick” was broadcast for the PBS “Great Performances” series.
Holman was ecstatic when the stars aligned for Heggie to come to CU this summer. For the seventh season of CU NOW — an annual event in which students, faculty and alumni of the Eklund Program work on a new opera in progress with a professional composer — Heggie brings the full vocal score draft of his latest work, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” to prepare it for its world premiere in December.
The three-week workshop culminates with two free concert performances of scenes from the opera next weekend at the ATLAS Black Box Theater.
Heggie and Holman have been acquainted for some time. While working for Opera Colorado before her appointment at CU, Holman turned pages for him at a recital where he was accompanying the great mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade in his own songs. She met him again in 2010 when his opera “Three Decembers” was being staged in Central City. CU NOW was in its infancy then, and she has always hoped that Heggie would one day be the featured composer. It was in fact Heggie who recommended the program when the team behind composer Alberto Caruso’s “The Master” was looking for a workshop in 2014.