Biography

“arguably the world’s most popular 21st-century opera and art song composer” The Wall Street Journal

“U.S. opera’s most successful composer” Opera News




Photo © Ellen Appel
Photo © Ellen Appel

Jake Heggie, Composer & Pianist

Complete Biography

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), Two Remain (Scheer), To Hell and Back (Scheer) and At the Statue of Venus (McNally). 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 is currently at work on a dramatic song cycle titled INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope (texts by Gene Scheer), commissioned by Music at Kohl Mansion to mark the first West Coast visit of the remarkable collection of instruments known as the Violins of Hope; instruments played in concentration camps during the Holocaust and restored over the past 40 years. He is also writing a new chamber work to celebrate the 50th anniversary of flutist Carol Wincenc’s remarkable performing career.

The opera Three Decembers by Jake Heggie at Houston Grand Opera, 2008. Frederick von Stade & Keith Phares.
Three Decembers at Houston Grand Opera, 2008
Frederica von Stade & Keith Phares

Photo Brett Coomer

The operas – most created with Terrence McNally or Gene Scheer – have been produced on five continents. Later this year, Dead Man Walking will receive 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 recently announced that it will produce Dead Man Walking during its 2020-21 season in a 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 performed more than 300 times and recorded live twice. 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. Great Scott was a 2019 Grammy Award nominee for Best New Composition, Classical.

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 in 2017, gave 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 and Ravinia.

Joyce DiDonato & Jake Heggie 
Joyce DiDonato & Jake Heggie
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, Karen Slack, Talise Trevigne, Kristin Clayton, Ann Moss, Caitlin Lynch and Lisa Delan; mezzo-sopranos Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Jamie Barton, 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, Nathan Gunn, Morgan Smith, Rod Gilfry, Bryn Terfel, Michael Mayes and Robert Orth. He has also worked closely with extraordinary instrumentalists such as flutists Carol Wincenc and Lorna McGhee; violinists 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.  jakeheggie.com

Note: When printing or publishing Jake’s bio, please include the website address jakeheggie.com



Photo: Art & Clarity
Photo: Art & Clarity

Jake Heggie, Composer & Pianist

Short Biography

Jake Heggie is the composer of the operas Dead Man WalkingMoby-DickIt’s A Wonderful LifeIf I Were You, Great ScottThree Decembers and Two Remain, among others. He has also composed nearly 300 songs, as well as chamber, choral and orchestral works. The operas – most created with Terrence McNally or Gene Scheer – have been produced on five continents. Dead Man Walking (McNally) has been recorded twice and will soon receive its 70th international production, making it one of the most performed operas of our time. New York’s Metropolitan Opera recently announced that it will produce Dead Man Walking during its 2020-21 season in a new production by director Ivo van Hove, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Moby-Dick (Scheer) was telecast throughout the United States as part of Great Performances’ 40th Season and released on DVD (EuroArts). Great Scott was a 2019 Grammy Award nominee for Best New Composition, Classical. The composer was awarded the Eddie Medora King prize from the UT Austin Butler School of Music and the Champion Award from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. A Guggenheim Fellow, Heggie has served as a mentor for the Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative and is a frequent guest artist at universities, conservatories and festivals throughout the USA and Canada. He and Gene Scheer are currently at work on INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope, commissioned by Music at Kohl Mansion and inspired by stories from the historic collection of instruments played during the Holocaust. jakeheggie.com

Note: When printing or publishing Jake’s bio, please include the website address jakeheggie.com