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Dead Man Walking

Houston recording

In the Houston Grand Opera production of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, "Joyce DiDonato as Sister Helen Prejean, who becomes a counselor to a murderer on death row in Louisiana, shares the stage with her idol, veteran mezzo Frederica Von Stade, here making her farewell to opera.

"Like Tim Robbins' Oscar-winning 1995 movie of the same name, which starred Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, the opera draws on Sister Helen's real-life memoirs: a leading advocate for abolition of the death penalty in the USA, she acted as a counselor to a prisoner on death row in Louisiana. 'However great an operatic and theatrical experience,' [wrote] the Houston Chronicle, 'Dead Man Walking makes its greatest impact as a purely human one.'

"As Joyce DiDonato told the New York Times, 'I first did Sister Helen at New York City Opera in 2002. It was extraordinary as a young American to be involved in something that so directly reflects things our society is going through. Dead Man Walking poses questions directly applicable to our society today... I've never felt a piece hit an audience so hard. There was electricity in the theatre.'

"Quite apart from the power of the opera itself, the production had a special personal significance for DiDonato. Her career was launched in the late 1990s with her three years on Houston Grand Opera's young artist program, and in this production she was sharing a stage with her idol, fellow mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade. Playing Mrs. De Rocher, the mother of the convicted murderer, Von Stade made her farewell to the operatic stage with this production."

CD,, U.S. release date April 24, 2012




Dead Man Walking 2002 San Francisco recording