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Music by Jake Heggie
Libretto by Terrence McNally
Directed by Jack O'Brien

Arden Scott, a modern day woman and opera diva of Great Scott, is at a critical moment in her life. She returns to her hometown for the first time since becoming an international star, to help save her home opera company run by her mentor. The struggle of a make-or-break opera premiere is juxtaposed with the thriving Grizzlies, the home football team appearing in the Super Bowl, both happening on the same evening. Passions, both new and old, collide in this tender and funny slice-of-life opera that examines the sacrifices we all make in our lives

The Los Angeles Times critic calls it"...opera as entertainment...I arrived in San Diego in a bad mood, after having been stuck in freeway traffic...and I left in a good mood."

Opera West declares it"... simply gorgeous..." and "something of a romp, a romantic comedy spiced with topical satirical jabs and genre parody."

"...a love letter to opera...thoughtful, funny and perhaps also a forecast of the opera of tomorrow" says The San Diego Union–Tribune

The music of Great Scott has great heart and great lightness. With tenderness and humor, Heggie explores the music of the past while contrasting it with today’s music of popular culture. Based on the original story by Terrence McNally and directed by Jack O’Brien, Great Scott is sure to delight in every way.

All performances at the San Diego Civic Theatre
3 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission
In English with projected English supertitles - Learn more »

Meet The Cast


An Interview with Jake Heggie about Great Scott

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Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 7:00pm

LOCATION: The Auditorium at Scripps Research Institute, 10550 John Jay Hopkins Drive, La Jolla 92121
COST: Free of Charge
HOST: Dr. Nicolas Reveles, Director of Education and Community Engagement, San Diego Opera
SPEAKER: Jake Heggie, Composer of Great Scott

There is no better resource to talk about and explore a new opera than the composer himself, in this case Jake Heggie, composer of such contemporary classics as Dead Man Walking and Moby Dick. In conversation with Nic Reveles, Mr. Heggie will tell us about how Great Scott was conceived, his collaboration with librettist Terrence McNally, the nature of his musical style, his influences and how the premiere of the opera in Dallas (November, 2015) was received. Particularly interesting will be a discussion of things he may want to change before San Diego Opera’s production upcoming in May, 2016. This event is a partnership with UCSD’s Extended Studies and Public Programs.


Saturday, May 7 at 10:30pm
The US Grant Hotel

Join us immediately following the opening night performance when we’ll journey a few short blocks to The US Grant. We’ll meet the artists from Great Scott and enjoy a wine and champagne reception with light hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Post-Opera Cast Party tickets are $75 per person. ADD TO YOUR TICKET ORDER TODAY!

TASTE OF OPERA Special Event:

The Curious Fork Cooking Class

The Curious Fork

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Friday, March 25, 6:30PM

ADDRESS: 2512 Via de la Valle, Suite 102, Solana Beach, CA 92075
COST: $49 per person
DIRECTIONS: From I-5 San Diego Fwy: Take the Via de la Valle exit, EXIT 36; Go West onto County Hwy-S8/Via de la Valle for less than 1 mile; Your destination is just past Pimlico Dr in same plaza as Pamplemousse (if you reach Del Mar Downs Rd you've gone a little too far)
PARKING: Ample free parking in plaza parking lots

Arden Scott, - a modern day woman and opera diva of Great Scott – struggles with the challenges ahead when she moves back to her hometown to save the American Opera, only to find that opening night is scheduled on the same day as the big game of the home football team. This story told with lighthearted, tender humor, explores music of the past while contrasting it with today’s popular culture. While Nicolas unfolds the story with music, Katherine brings you an All American menu. Recipes: French Onion Dip Potato Skins; Carolina Barbeque with Tangy Sauce and House Made Pickled Peppers; Farmer’s Market Slaw; Hush Puppy Onion Rings; Apricot-Pistachio Tarts. All dishes are gluten free.


Great Scott - April 28, 2016 at 5:30pm

Join the stars of Great Scott in Stars in the Salon. This is a thrilling experience for anyone who loves opera. We welcome our distinguished guest panels for a provocative look at the music, characters and behind-the-scenes work which is so important to each production. The Civic Theatre’s beautiful Beverly Sills Salon acts as the setting for this enjoyable discussion where audience members have a chance to meet the stars and ask their own questions of the leading singers, conductors and directors first hand! All sessions are open to the public and free of charge.

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Print Synopsis


ACT ONE: (In Rehearsal)

Final rehearsals are underway for American Opera’s world premiere performance of Vittorio Bazzetti’s Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompei which has lain neglected since its composition in 1835 until it was found by the celebrated American lyric-mezzo Arden Scott in a drawer at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.

Now, to celebrate her official hometown debut, Arden has proposed to American Opera a production of this long-lost – and everyone hopes – masterpiece of bel canto. The future of the struggling company, headed by founder and artistic director Winnie Flato, depends on the success of Rosa Dolorosa – just as the fate of the Grizzlies, the town’s professional football team (owned by Winnie’s husband), depends on the outcome of the Super Bowl across town the very same night as Rosa.

Arden tells the company the story of finding the manuscript and her confidence in its worth, but shares her own self-doubts that she will do it justice. She is at a crucial point in her career and her decision to sing Rosa Dolorosa will have serious consequences for her, both personal and professional. A potentially serious stage accident further rattles everyone’s nerves and a full break is called.

Eric Gold, the conductor, is put surprisingly off guard when Roane Heckle, American Opera’s stage manager, begins a flirtation with him. Baritone Wendell Swann and tenor Anthony Candolino waste no time in making sure that Winnie will remember them for future engagements at American Opera.

Taking all this in is Tatyana Bakst, a young soprano Arden discovered in Eastern Europe and immediately proposed for the second lead in Rosa Dolorosa. Eager to make her American debut at an important occasion, Tatyana misses nothing, including the proposal from Winnie’s husband that Arden sing the National Anthem before the Super Bowl kick-off next Sunday.

Arden and Winnie are enjoying a fond reminiscence of the important role each has played in the other’s life – singer and mentor – when they are interrupted by the arrival of Sid Taylor, Arden’s former boyfriend, now an admired local architect, and his little boy, Tommy, who has an important non-singing role in Rosa.

Arden and Sid are soon reminded of the passion and significance of their prior relationship, which both of them abandoned because of the conflicts of their career choices. Neither of them wants to make the same mistake again.

Returning from their break, the singers remind Winnie what busy, hectic, nomadic existences they have. They’ve even made up a game about it.

The company resumes rehearsal for Rosa Dolorosa. At a critical ensemble moment, Tommy runs on to say his all-important spoken line. Unfortunately, there is a spectacular musical crash and burn instead. Tatyana blames Tommy and berates the boy in front of the entire company. Arden comforts him. The company then rehearses the “Fountain Dance” and everything that could go wrong with it does. The rehearsal comes to a grinding halt again.

Winnie is in justifiable agony and wonders when American Opera will know if Rosa Dolorosa is a success. Only “on the night,” Arden tells Winnie. Arden lives for such moments. In the meantime, they rehearse. Tommy runs onstage again and delivers his line, this time perfectly: “Vesuvius is going to erupt!” The curtain falls.

ACT TWO: (In Performance)

Tatyana has a dazzling success singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl across town. Backstage at America Opera, her colleagues are alternately amazed and appalled as they watch the event on television.

Arden is already feeling the professional and personal impact of her decision not to have accepted the Grizzlies invitation to sing it. Tatyana’s police escort rushes her to the opera house so the premiere of Rosa Dolorosa can begin.

The first act of Rosa Dolorosa goes magnificently: scenes that were tentative in rehearsal now play without incident. Tommy delivers his line impeccably. Even the Fountain Dance goes well. The company is encouraged at how the performance is going. There is a cherry on the icing: The Grizzlies are trouncing their opponents.

Alone in her dressing room, Arden prepares for Rosa’s treacherous mad scene. Sid enters and surprises her: he’s bypassed the Super Bowl to attend her performance. He wants Arden to consider giving them a chance as a couple. This would mean both of them changing their lives dramatically, of course. Much to Arden’s relief, Roane enters and orders Sid out.

Arden and Roane have a moment together. Unlike Arden, he is one of the invisible people in the theater. He calls places for Act Two and leaves.

The ghost of Vittorio Bazzetti, composer of Rosa Dolorosa, appears to Arden. He challenges her as an artist and as a woman, daring her to make the same supreme sacrifice his heroine Rosa did. Arden begins to unravel. The separation between Arden and Rosa is becoming increasingly blurred. He thanks her for her service to his music. He knows the enormous price she has paid for this evening. He urges her to also sing the music of her time, to accept the chance to create Medea Refracted, a new and radically difficult opera composed especially for her, before a younger, more adventurous singer dares its many challenges. 

The entire company is onstage when Arden enters to sing Rosa’s Mad Scene, a lamentation of sacrifice and duty that ends with a brilliantly defiant acceptance of her fate and the will of the gods. The opera ends. The performance has gone flawlessly. The exultant performers take their bows.

During the performance – via supertitles – we have followed the Super Bowl score. In a swift and sudden reversal of fortune, the Grizzlies have lost.

Arden invites the ever-optimistic Winnie to take a curtain call with her. Winnie delivers impassioned words of gratitude for the support the audience has given to her and American Opera all these many years. Her husband has assured her of his support for her beloved opera company. Arden leads the company in cheers for Winnie.

The celebration is jubilant backstage as everyone changes to get ready for the cast party. In the midst of the excitement, Arden decides to brave the Internet blogs to see what the response to Rosa Dolorosa has been. Instead, she reads that Medea Refracted has been given to Tatyana Bakst.  

Tatyana arrives and explains to Arden that she meant to tell her personally. She will also sing the title role of Rosa Dolorosa in a new production in Venice. Stunned but generous, Arden offers the young soprano some advice about what may lie ahead.

Arden and Roane are alone. “Is anyone waiting for me?” she asks. “Lots of fans,” he tells her. That isn’t what she meant.

A ghost light glows on the bare stage. Sid and Tommy are waiting for her. Tommy runs off and Sid asks Arden if she has an answer for him yet. She asks for a moment by herself.

The Ghost of Vittorio Bazzetti appears to Arden and they bow respectfully to each other before he fades away. Standing alone now center stage, she takes in the vast, empty space before her.

Tommy runs in. He forgot his skateboard.

Arden follows him off.

Synopsis courtesy of The Dallas Opera

Opera Talk!

Opera Spotlight




Great Scott - April 28, 2016 at 5:30pm

Join the stars of Great Scott in Stars in the Salon. This is a thrilling experience for anyone who loves opera. We welcome our distinguished guest panels for a provocative look at the music, characters and behind-the-scenes work which is so important to each production. The Civic Theatre’s beautiful Beverly Sills Salon acts as the setting for this enjoyable discussion where audience members have a chance to meet the stars and ask their own questions of the leading singers, conductors and directors first hand! All sessions are open to the public and free of charge.

► Learn More


As there is no recording of Jake Heggie and Terence McNally’s opera Great Scott at the present time, we have offered suggestions of other operas with music by Heggie as well as a collection of songs that will give you an excellent grasp of the composer’s style and approach to text.

Dead Man Walking

Joyce DiDonato, Philip Cutlip, Frederica von Stade, Measha Brueggergosman, Patrick Summers conducting the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus. VIRGIN Classics


Jay Hunter Morris, Stephen Costello, Morgan Smith, Jonathan Lemalu, Talise Trevigne, Patrick Summers conducting the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. SAN FRANCISCO OPERA

Three Decembers (chamber opera)

Frederica von Stade, Kristin Clayton, Keith Phares, Patrick Summers conducting the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. HOUSTON GRAND OPERA

The Faces of Love (Songs by Jake Heggie)

Renée Fleming, Sylvia McNair, Jennifer Larmore, Frederica von Stade and other artists, Jake Heggie, piano, Emil Miland, cello.