Monodrama for Baritone or Bass-Baritone and Piano

on a Libretto by Caitlin Vincent

E. C. Schirmer Music Company

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Librettist Caitlin Vincent describes the monodrama AHAB as “essentially a mad scene…an acting tour de force with numerous emotional shifts that run on a steady descent to fatigue, resignation, and resolve.” The work functions as a mini-epilogue to Melville’s novel and takes place after Captain Ahab gets tangled in his harpoon line and pulled under the water by the whale Moby-Dick. Even after the destruction of his ship and crew, we see that Ahab remains unable to break away from his obsession with the white whale or take responsibility for everything that has happened. In reality, Ahab is most certainly dead or dying. But the work is also open ended and asks the audience to consider whether Ahab could actually have defeated death and, even now, awaits his final battle with Moby-Dick at the bottom of the ocean.


Vocal Range
E 2  :  F 4

10′ 00″

Vocal Tessitura
D 3  :  D 4

Year of Composition

First Performance
December 6, 2020
CALL OUT: Simultaneous
Digital Audio & Video Albums

First Performers
Zachary James, bass-baritone
Charity Wicks, piano
Ellen Jackson, director

First Live Performance
August 28, 2021
On Site Opera
Tall Ship “Wavertree”
South Street Seaport
New York, New York

First Live Performers
Zachary James, bass-baritone
Charity Wicks, piano
Eric Einhorn, director

“The undisputable highlight of the performance was Zachary James’s tour-de-force, world premiere performance of Juliana Hall’s Moby-Dick-themed monodrama, ‘Ahab.’ Hall’s work depicts Captain Ahab at the moment of the Pequod’s destruction, caught somewhere between an insatiable drive to catch the white whale and the dawning realization of the devastation that he has wrought upon his crew.

James captured this tension perfectly, veering between roaring paroxysms and piteous whimpering as he launched himself up and down the stairs of the poop deck. Wild-eyed and metallic-voiced, James transformed the acerbic atonality of Hall’s score into a searing psychological hellscape—equal parts claustrophobic and volatile.”

– Callum John Blackmore,
   Parterre Box

“This is not the first collaboration between the composer and librettist Caitlin Vincent, a poet and soprano. It is the third such collaboration in the creation of Juliana Hall’s monodramas, a fascinating project…Ahab, of course, is the iconic figure from Melville’s ‘Moby Dick,’ and the text follows the titular character’s descent into insanity; the work is essentially a mad scene…The piano accompaniment is a powerful force here in the delineation of Ahab’s final moments, containing all the distinctive qualities of Hall’s approach — extended and sometimes harsh tonality, the percussive elements mentioned earlier, and sudden shifts in mood and tonality, in ‘Ahab,’ at the end, to a lovely, transparent and redemptive color.”

– Kathleen Roland-Silverstein,
   NATS Journal of Singing

Composer Juliana Hall, librettist Caitlin Vincent, and bass-baritone Zachary James join Abe and Christina to discuss their upcoming collaboration on a new “monodrama.” And in case you’ve never heard of Carnegie Hall, we’ll be sure to enlighten you.”

– Monodramas,
   The Lied Society

Zachary James, bass-baritone
Charity Wicks, piano