Great Scott


Joyce DiDonato, Ailyn PérezFrederica von Stade, Nathan GunnAnthony Roth Costanzo

Patrick Summers, conductor

Opera star Arden Scott returns to her hometown to save the struggling company that launched her career. The opening night performance of the long-lost opera she discovered falls on the same night as the home team’s first National Championship game (Go, Grizzlies!). The fate of the company hangs in the balance as Arden discovers that greatness is truly a matter of heart.

*World Premiere

Available January 12, 2018

Track Listing

Disc: 1

1. Great Scott, Act 1: Overtures to Great Scott and Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompei
2. Great Scott, Act 1: Rehearsal, Part One
3. Great Scott, Act 1: The Wedding Procession from Rosa Dolorosa
4. Great Scott, Act 1: “Vesuvio, il mio unico amico”
5. Great Scott, Act 1: “Five years ago…”
6. Great Scott, Act 1: Ensemble and Cabaletta
7. Great Scott, Act 1: Break
8. Great Scott, Act 1: “Talk to me about Roane, Winnie”
9. Great Scott, Act 1: “The writing’s on the wall”
10. Great Scott, Act 1: “What are the Grizzlies’ chances?”
11. Great Scott, Act 1: “I want to be America’s soprano”
12. Great Scott, Act 1: Duet Scene
13. Great Scott, Act 1: “Oh, Mrs. F”
14. Great Scott, Act 1: “Sorry Tommy’s late”
15. Great Scott, Act 1: Rehearsal, Part Two
16. Great Scott, Act 1: “I get scared, too, Tommy”
17. Great Scott, Act 1: The Fountain Dance
18. Great Scott, Act 1: “It’s a disaster”

Disc: 2

1. Great Scott, Act 2: Prelude
2. Great Scott, Act 2: “The Starry-Spangled Banner”
3. Great Scott, Act 2: “Arden, you have seen the future”
4. Great Scott, Act 2: Rosa Dolorosa, Act One
5. Great Scott, Act 2: “I thought that went extremely well”
7. Great Scott, Act 2: “I don’t care how good ‘what’ was”
8. Great Scott, Act 2: “You’ll never be her”
9. Great Scott, Act 2: “Buona sera, Rosa”
10. Great Scott, Act 2: “Look for me, I’m there”
11. Great Scott, Act 2: “All that you leave behind”
12. Great Scott, Act 2: “Arden! You’re not dressed for the mad scene!”
13. Great Scott, Act 2: In the Wings
14. Great Scott, Act 2: Rosa’s Mad Scene
15. Great Scott, Act 2: Rosa’s Prayer
16. Great Scott, Act 2: “Io sola posso salvare Pompei”
17. Great Scott, Act 2: Curtain Calls
18. Great Scott, Act 2: “Thank you for your wonderful support”
19. Great Scott, Act 2: “Triumph for American Opera!”
20. Great Scott, Act 2: Quartet
21. Great Scott, Act 2: Center Stage
22. Great Scott, Act 2: Finale


“. . . some of the plot developments and casting bordered on brilliance . . . DiDonato was a wonder. With every technical effect perfectly executed, she proved herself once again a star. In the admirably clear, superior acoustics of Dallas’ Winspear Opera House, the particular heart-tugging quality of her voice came through admirably. And thanks to director Jack O’Brien and choreographer John de los Santos, her acting and movement – everyone’s really – was dynamic and convincing . . .

Great Scott is a hoot . . . a Blu-ray and DVD of this wonderful production is a necessity. Only the stuffy could possibly resist.”

Jason Victor Serinus – Classical Voice North America

“It is, simply, one of the most engaging modern operas produced this century. See it, and you’ll talk about it for years . . . The acclaimed soprano Arden Scott (Joyce DiDonato . . . was in fine form and acted brilliantly) . . .”

Arnold Wayne Jones – Dallas Voice

“The title character is Arden Scott (the magnificent American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato), a famous opera singer at the summit of her career . . .

The title role, written specifically for Ms. DiDonato, demands enormous agility, color variety and stamina. In effect, the role encompasses two operas’ worth of soaring arias, galloping cabalettas and mad scenes, which follow one another at a punishing pace, and two distinct characters representing two very different centuries. If “this shit is hard,” Ms. DiDonato made it seem easy. The most elaborate fioriture passages of Rosa Dolorosa, reminiscent of those in Rossini’s Semiramide, unfolded with click-stop precision, dead-accurate aim and total confidence. The Scott character gave scope to Ms. DiDonato’s melting warmth and her ability to delineate shifting moods and emotions through the voice alone. Her excellent physical acting and natural movement were icing on the cake.

A scene between Arden Scott and Winnie Flato, reminiscing about their teen years and talking about their lives and dreams, was wonderfully humane, engaging and real.”

Mike Greenberg – Incident Light

“Infused with humor and sensitivity, it tells the story of Arden Scott (stunningly portrayed by Joyce DiDonato) . . .

The engaging first act is a behind-the-curtain look at rehearsing opera . . . Winnie and Arden share a touching duet, with Arden attributing her fame and success partly to Winnie’s nurturing tutelage.  The emotional crux of Act I resides in the surprise meeting of Arden and Sid.”

Alicia Chang – Dallas Voice

“It is hard to imagine a better cast and it is easy to believe that both composer and librettist knew who was singing the opera before they started to create it . . . Arden Scott, a legendary mezzo-soprano, is portrayed by superstar mezzo Joyce DiDonato. She plays her with a very un-divalike simplicity, the local girl made good, who feels the pressure of impending time and voracious young replacements.”

Gregory Sullivan-Isaacs – TheaterJones

“. . . Heggie’s melodic lines, while always nodding to the past, never resort to cheap parody, and his own distinctly contemporary voice is always apparent. The bel canto arias he composed for DiDonato here are gorgeous and memorable, especially an aria she sings, quite exquisitely, as a prayer to Vesuvius before it erupts.

Hearing Joyce DiDonato sing such thoughtfully composed, virtuosic bel canto style music in her prime is worth the price of your ticket.”

Catherine Womack – D Magazine

“. . . he bel canto of DiDonato lends the credibility necessary for us to suspend our initial cynicism and become fully immersed in the classical beauty of the music Heggie has composed. Here in Great Scott, in Rosa Dolorosa, the music transcends the story itself . . . DiDonato’s steely soprano retains its dignity throughout her moments of soul-searching — she never goes fully crazy like the women of operas past. Her performance, as well as the entire ensemble, is nuanced.”

Monica Hinman – Dallas Observer

“Maybe, just maybe, the art of bel canto singing can skyrocket in the context of contemporary opera. Great Scott, The Dallas Opera’s formidable new commission of Terrence McNally’s story and libretto, with music by Jake Heggie, certainly makes it possible . . .

In Act I, American Opera is rehearsing Bazzetti’s work and Joyce DiDonato, for whom the role of as Arden Scott was created, sings to impress. While seemingly at play with her voice, DiDonato catapults the art of coloratura, singing with unbounded joy through highly expressive vocal shifts with rich textures and a fountain of effervescence . . .

Scott loses out to Bakst for the title role of a new opera, Medea Refracted. Her dressing room becomes steeped in poignant reflections on love, loss and success, and all the while the tattooed DiDonato gives her both classy sassiness and modern believability . . . the artists of the company endear and their performances stick memorably.”


“Great Scott” was designed as a vehicle for the lustrous mezzo Joyce DiDonato, whose career resembles that of the fictional Scott in more than a few respects.

He [Heggie] invents plausible pseudo-Donizetti for the opera-within-the-opera, playing to DiDonato’s dual gifts for coloratura agility and lyric repose . . . “Great Scott” had a shiny first night in the Winspear Opera House, the Dallas Opera’s handsome, resonant home. Jack O’Brien directed with comic flair; Patrick Summers gave the score much-needed forward momentum. DiDonato was in full, bright voice, turning on a dime from slapstick to pathos . .”

Alex Ross – The New Yorker

“The fluency with which DiDonato sings Rosa Dolorosa’s bravura flourishes is fantastic, but it is her lyrical singing of Arden’s music that thrills and moves. Fiorature are produced by technique, her performance intimates, but singing at its most unaffected emerges as much from the soul as from the diaphragm.”

Joseph Newsome – Voix des Arts

“Jake Heggie’s opera for Joyce DiDonato, Great Scott, has been recorded for the first time, with the US mezzo in the lead. Terrence McNally’s libretto is about an opera diva who returns to her hometown to star in a forgotten bel canto opera, but it clashes with the city’s football game. ‘It’s a melodic love letter to the world of opera and art,’ says the star.”

Studio Secrets – BBC Music Magazine

“The American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has reached a point where she has not only inspired a cute compilation album called ReJoyce, but also had an opera written for her and, in some sense, about her.

It’s DiDonato… who makes Great Scott spin as far as it does. She plays Arden Scott, an international diva who returns to her home city, hoping to boost its struggling opera company with a splashy production of her discovery, a long-lost “bel canto” opera from 1835 by the imaginary Vittorio Bazzetti.

…the conceit gets DiDonato singing watery pastiche Bellini, scaling coloratura flights, surviving a mad scene and crooning in velvet; all pleasing to hear.”

Geoff Brown, The Times

“Heggie gets to spoof the sub-Rossinian bel canto on an elaborate scale (up to and including those celebrated crescendos) but in so doing manages to transcend mere pastiche in the creation of genuinely elegant and beautiful lines and authentic vocal fireworks that challenge and tax DiDonato as surely as the roles in her core repertoire. The operatic set pieces here truly have a ring of authenticity to them.”

Edward Seckerson, Gramophone
*Featured in Gramophone’s Best new Classical albums, February 2018

*Grammy nominated for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition”

*Gramophone’s 2018 Recordings of the Year 



“The premiere production couldn’t have had a better cast. Great Scott calls for singers with excellent technique and personal charisma. This cast had both . . . Joyce DiDonato sang like an angel but acted equally well as a star in midlife crisis.

Ian MacKenzie – Opera Today

Album info

Release date: January 12, 2018
Number of Discs: 2
Format: Live
Label: Erato