Heggie was weaned on American musicals, and grew up writing songs in that style. But years of work with some bold-named opera stars, including Frederica von Stade and Renee Fleming, eventually led to a commission from the San Francisco Opera, where he once worked in the marketing department. And more than 15 years since that first commission, composing Terrence McNally’s adaptation of the film Dead Man Walking, Heggie has been committed to the genre and putting his own musical theater-esque stamp on it.
“We have to make a strong case to make this traditionally European form our own,” he says. “Looking at all the different permutations of stories and combinations of singers and instruments throughout history, not to mention today, shows you just how versatile this art form is.”
Heggie has a kindred spirit in UrbanArias, which Robert Wood founded more than four years ago as a way to make opera more accessible and affordable to new audiences. This nationally recognized, Arlington-based company opens its new season with a production of Three Decembers, a 90-minute opera Heggie developed with librettist Gene Scheer, adapted from a script by Terrence McNally. The intimate piece explores the dysfunctional relationship between a Broadway diva and her two children over the course of three decades, charting the impact of AIDS and the rise of gay rights. “It’s very important that people today remember what that period was like,” Heggie says, “because a lot of young people don’t know what it was like or what was going on.”
Heggie, who lives in San Francisco with his actor husband Curt Branom and is currently in the final stages of writing another new opera with McNally, is thrilled by the efforts of UrbanArias and other organizations for pushing opera in new directions.
“It’s exciting to see a younger generation, a generation behind me who are getting opportunities to write operas in a way that I never could have imagined,” he says.
Three Decembers opens Saturday, Sept. 27, at 8 p.m., with additional performances Sunday, Sept. 28, at 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 4, at 8 p.m. Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd. Arlington. Tickets are $28. Call 703-875-1100 or visit urbanarias.org.
Metro Weekly's Emails are a great way to stay up-to-date with everything you want to know -- and more!
Dontonio Williams, pka “Black Tony” is a failed rap artist, former trap star street hustler and self-proclaimed “finesse master” that found his way into the heart of the "Rickey Smiley Morning... Read more
A trip to an art museum can be overwhelming. What do you focus on? What are the must-see pieces? Professional museum tour guide Stephen Mead takes you through the National Gallery of Art's highlights,... Read more
Chills, thrills and intriguing mysteries crowd the haunted and historic homes of Washington's Lafayette Park in this tour presented by Washington Walks. Violent quarrels, vicious attacks, murder, suic... Read more
“Here she is, Miss Ghana…” Pretty, popular Paulina longs to hear those words, and she’ll do whatever it takes to seize the crown. But the queen bee of the Aburi Girls Boarding School didn’t ... Read more
Experience the DC Comedy Showcase in Adams Morgan, D.C. at Comedy Club DC. The showroom and tavern will have you feeling fresh and ready to kick back for the best laughs. Laugh Buzz Comedy hosts natio... Read more
On the Politics & Pints Capitol Hill Tour, you'll explore the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Discover the birthplace of American government while seeing iconic landmarks and le... Read more
If there's one thing you'll immediately learn about the hardworking citizens of Washington, D.C., it's that they love a good happy hour! Urban Adventures helps you sip your way through the Capitol's v... Read more
Join Fiona for a private tour to see some of Washington, DC’s most recognizable sculptures in the Hirshhorn collection found outside in the beautiful, sunken Sculpture Garden. The Sculpture Garden i... Read more
Take a quirky tour of one of the most historic -- and underrated --buildings and museums in Washington, D.C. with Smithsonian American Art Adventures. You'll dive into American history through art whi... Read more
With "The Royale", Emmy-nominated playwright Marco Ramirez ("Orange Is the New Black", "Sons of Anarchy") takes the real-life story of Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight boxing champ... Read more
Join us at Club Heaven for '80s vs '90s dance night in Adams Morgan, DC. Imagine a night where you can dance and scream at the top of your lungs while your favorite songs from the '80s and '90s are pl... Read more
The hit musical "Hamilton" made history on Broadway and now it's time to discover the Ten Dollar Founding Father's connections to the nation's capital. On this Washington Walk, you'll see sites associ... Read more
Elgar Cello Concerto WMP opens its season with Gwyneth Walker’s dramatic setting of Langston Hughes famous poem. Virgil Thomson’s witty "Symphony" takes hymn tunes and other Americana to a differe... Read more
Jamie Loftus is a comedian and cartoonist living in Los Angeles originally from Boston. She's a nationally touring stand-up comic, a writer for "Robot Chicken" on Adult Swim, and co-host of "The Bechd... Read more
In 1691, Puritan New England, fear and superstition were rampant. Singing, dancing and amusement of any kind was forbidden. The devil was everywhere. Five girls coming of age in Salem Village, despera... Read more
Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have "The 39 Steps," a fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre! This two-time Tony and Dram... Read more
One of Washington D.C.'s most famous historical events, the assassination of President Lincoln comes to life on the city streets. This History on Foot walking tour is led by an actor in costume, shari... Read more
It's another day in another southern country-fried town … but something's missing. All the Black residents have mysteriously disappeared! With unexpected holes left in the town's daily operations, a... Read more
BTM creates another world premiere ballet based on the famous Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, "The Snow Queen," the inspiration for Disney’s blockbuster favorite "Frozen". Fearless optimist Gerda... Read more