January 31, 2021
Composer & Pianist
Jake Heggie is the American composer of the operas Dead Man Walking (libretto by Terrence McNally), Moby-Dick (libretto by Gene Scheer), It’s A Wonderful Life (Scheer), If I Were You (Scheer), Great Scott (McNally), Three Decembers (Scheer), For a Look or a Touch (Scheer) and Two Remain (Scheer), among others. In addition to eight full-length operas and several one-acts, Heggie has composed nearly 300 art songs, as well as concerti, chamber music, choral and orchestral works. He recently completed and recorded Songs for Murdered Sisters, a song cycle based on new poems by Margaret Atwood, created for baritone Joshua Hopkins and commissioned by Houston Grand Opera. Earlier this year, he completed INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope (texts by Gene Scheer), a dramatic song cycle featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Daniel Hope, recorded live for Pentatone. The label recently released a new all-Heggie recording titled Unexpected Shadows, featuring mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and cellist Matt Haimovitz. Heggie is currently at work with Gene Scheer on a new opera for the Houston Grand Opera titled Intelligence.
Heggie’s operas – most created with Gene Scheer or the late Terrence McNally – have been produced on five continents. In 2019, Dead Man Walking received its 70th international production at the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, the first American opera to be produced by that company. New York’s Metropolitan Opera has announced Dead Man Walking for a future season in a bold new production by director Ivo van Hove, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Since its San Francisco Opera premiere in 2000, Dead Man Walking has been recorded live twice and performed more than 300 times, making it the most-performed American opera of the 21st Century. In addition to major productions throughout the USA, Dead Man Walking has been seen in Dresden, Vienna, London, Madrid, Sydney, Adelaide, Calgary, Montreal, Cape Town, Dublin, Copenhagen, and Malmö. Moby-Dick has received 12 international productions since its 2010 premiere at The Dallas Opera; San Francisco Opera’s production was telecast as part of Great Performances’ 40th anniversary season and released on DVD (EuroArts). 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). Three Decembers, Heggie & Scheer’s three-character chamber opera, has received 30 international productions and was recently recorded by Opera San Jose in a new production starring Susan Graham.
A Guggenheim Fellow, Heggie has also served as a mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative and CU Boulder’s New Opera Workshop. In 2016, he was awarded the Eddie Medora King Prize by the UT Austin Butler School of Music. He was also the recipient of the Champion Award from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in a private concert that featured a performance by the great Patti LuPone. Heggie was the keynote speaker for the 2016 meeting of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) in Dallas and has given commencement addresses at the Eastman School of Music and Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music. He is a frequent guest artist and master teacher at universities and conservatories, including Boston University, Bucknell, Cincinnati Conservatory, Cornell, Eastman, CU Boulder, Northwestern, Peabody Conservatory, Roosevelt, The Royal Conservatory in Toronto, San Diego State, UNI, UNT, UT Austin, USC’s Thornton School, Vanderbilt University, and at festivals such as SongFest at the Colburn School.
Jake Heggie has collaborated as composer and pianist with some of the world’s most loved singers, including sopranos Kiri Te Kanawa, Renée Fleming, Ailyn Pérez, Heidi Stober, Golda Schultz, Karen Slack, Talise Trevigne, Ann Moss, Caitlin Lynch and Lisa Delan; mezzo-sopranos Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Jamie Barton, J’Nai Bridges, Suzanne Mentzer, Joyce Castle, Elise Quagliata, Maria Zifchak, Catherine Cook and Sasha Cooke; Broadway stars Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald; tenors Ben Heppner, William Burden, Stephen Costello, Jay Hunter Morris, Paul Groves, Nick Phan and Jonathan Blalock; baritones Keith Phares, Joshua Hopkins, Morgan Smith, Rod Gilfry, Bryn Terfel and Michael Mayes. He has also worked closely with extraordinary instrumentalists such as flutists Carol Wincenc and Lorna McGhee; violinists Daniel Hope, Leila Josefowicz, Aloysia Friedmann and Dawn Harms; cellists Matt Haimowitz, Emil Miland and Anne Martindale-Williams; pianists Jon Kimura Parker and Gustavo Romero; as well as the Miró Quartet, Brentano String Quartet and the Alexander String Quartet. Directors who have championed his work include Leonard Foglia, Joe Mantello, Francesca Zambello 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.
Jake Heggie lives in San Francisco with his husband, Curt Branom. www.jakeheggie.com