The central role in the new opera “Moby-Dick,” opening tonight, was created specifically with tenor Ben Heppner in mind.

Heppner has two legs, certainly to his benefit most of the time. But Captain Ahab has only one.

In the opera, Heppner limps around stage on a pegleg. He bends his knee onto a custom-fit piece, and then his foot is harnessed to the back of his thigh. He wears a long coat, which hides the tied-up foot.

We’ve been discovering some of the backstage elements of putting this new opera together this week, through videos that San Diego Opera produced.

“Your inner core is working very hard to keep yourself stable and moving around the stage. And therefore your interior is kind of tensed up a little bit, and that’s exactly the opposite way to what singing is,” Heppner says in the clip here:

Want to see more behind the scenes at “Moby-Dick”?

We have sneak peeks from Wednesday’s rehearsal — photos by Sam Hodgson and video we produced with our partners at NBC 7 San Diego.

On Monday the company showed us the rigging for a singer to fly; Tuesday we looked at the orchestra; Wednesday at the singing members of the Pequod crew, the chorus and yesterday at the supernumeraries — the guys who fight and climb and tumble but don’t sing.

Going to “Moby-Dick”? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think.

I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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