Walnut Creek Festival Opera to World Premiere ‘A Jake Heggie Triptych’

By Logan Martell

On August 13, 2021, Walnut Creek’s Festival Opera is set for the world premiere of “A Jake Heggie Triptych.”

The East Bay-based opera company will present the unique works as a result of General Director Zachary Gordin’s long-standing relationship with the composer. The “Triptych” features three of Heggie’s song cycles reimagined as fully-staged chamber operas bound by the common theme of the human desire for love and acceptance. The works that comprise the triptych include “At the Statue of Venus,” “Camille Claudel: Into the Fire,” and “For a Look or a Touch.”

The performances will feature a roster of West Coast artists who have a strong connection with the composer’s works, including Carrie Hennessey, Diana Tash, Curt Branom, and Zachary Gordin; Heggie himself will also take part in the performances.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Jake’s work since the release of his ‘The Faces of Love’ (1999) album, which featured many dear colleagues and friends,” writes Gordin in a press release. “I was immediately struck by his ability to build a whole environment with his piano writing, how operatic in nature it is, like the music provides both an orchestra and scenery. Of course, as a singer who is always looking for the essential truth in the music and stories I’m telling, it was a revelation to see his vocal writing truly mirroring the inflection, joy, and pathos of the human voice with honesty, setting texts in an immediately accessible, and deeply compelling way. We finally got to work together in 2015 after I accepted an eleventh-hour assignment at Dayton Opera for their premiere of ‘Dead Man Walking.’ Jake graciously offered to help prepare me for the role, offering his generous insight and advice in navigating the difficult role of the convict. I treasure that experience to this day, and I’m grateful for our continuing collaboration as we present this exquisite work at Festival Opera.”