FULL DEAD MAN WALKING (Heggie) Met 2023 Joyce DiDonato, Latonia Moore, Ryan McKinny, Susan Graham
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Information on the Performance
- Work Title: Dead Man Walking
- Composer: Heggie Jake
- Libretto: Terrence McNally based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ    Libretto Text, Libretto Index
- Venue & Opera Company: Metropolitan Opera, New York City
- Recorded: October 21, 2023
- Type: Staged Opera Live
- Singers: Joyce DiDonato, Latonia Moore, Ryan McKinny, Susan Graham
- Conductor: Yannick Nézet-Séguin CONDUCTOR Yannick Nézet-Séguin PERFORMING OCT 21 Headshot of Latonia Moore SISTER ROSE Latonia Moore PERFORMING OCT 21 Headshot of Joyce DiDonato SISTER HELEN PREJEAN Joyce DiDonato PERFORMING OCT 21 Headshot of Ryan McKinny JOSEPH DE ROCHER Ryan McKinny PERFORMING OCT 21 Headshot of Susan Graham MRS. PATRICK DE ROCHER Susan Graham PERFORMING
Information about the Recording
- Published by: Met Live in Cinema
- Date Published: 2023
- Format: Streaming
- Quality Video: 4 Audio:4
- Subtitles: nosubs
- Video Recording from: vk     FULL VIDEO
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS PERFORMANCE
World premiere: San Francisco Opera, 2000
The most widely performed new opera of the last two decades, Dead Man Walking is adapted from the groundbreaking memoir by Sister Helen Prejean. It concerns her ministry to condemned murderers on death row, and in bringing this powerful story to the operatic stage, composer Jake Heggie created a score that recalls Sister Helen’s prose and her advocacy style: direct, unaffected, and unflinchingly honest—but not without a deep understanding of the heart and humanity inside each one of us.
Jake Heggie (b. 1961) is an American composer known for his orchestral and choral work, his collaborations with a wide variety of artists, and especially for his operas. Librettist Terrence McNally (1938–2020) was a leading American playwright, screenwriter, and winner of numerous Tony and Drama Desk Awards. Sister Helen Prejean (b. 1939) became a nun in the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph at age 18 and began her ministry to convicts awaiting execution in 1982. She chronicled those early experiences in the book Dead Man Walking.
While based on real-life events from the late 1970s and early 1980s, Heggie’s opera is more generally set in contemporary times, as questions about the value and morality of the death penalty remain relevant. Nonetheless, the locations evoke actual places from Prejean’s life: a mission in a very poor neighborhood of New Orleans, the long road out to Louisiana State Penitentiary, and predominantly the prison itself.
In depicting this quintessentially American story, Heggie composed a score immersed in an American musical vernacular built around the characters and their inner conflicts, rather than an overt debate about capital punishment. Both lead roles require classic operatic vocalism, and the important role of Mrs. De Rocher, Joseph’s mother, must convey deep pathos in her tone as well as being able to express both the text and subtext in her music. Ambient music also plays a large role, including songs on a car radio, rock ’n’ roll in the style of Elvis Presley, and a traditional-sounding hymn whose impact changes when heard in different treatments.
Quoted from the Metropolitan Opera