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Digital Subscriptions > Opera Now > April 2017 > Dead Man Walking Heggie

Dead Man Walking Heggie

One would have thought that Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, which has been staged dozens of times, would offer more originality and nuance in its musical score. If the main purpose of opera is to express in the music what words can’t, then the focus on text in Dead Man Walking leaves a musical void at its most explosive moments

WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA

USA

Music ** * *

Staging ** *

Based on Sister Helen Prejean’s true account of her attempt to save a convicted murderer on death row and to make him take responsibility for his gruesome crime, the story deals with the moral issues of capital punishment and the politics surrounding it. Heggie uses the full musical armoury available to him in the operatic canon: impassioned lyricism in arias, duets and ensembles, borrowings from Verdi to Britten and the stylistic gamut from rock and roll to hymns. In spite of this, the work feels more like a narrative with music added rather than an integrated music-drama.

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About Opera Now

Christophe Rousset celebrates a quarter century at the forefront of the Early Music scene with Les Talens Lyriques; Sir John Eliot Gardiner takes Monteverdi’s three surviving operas on tour around the world; and our guide to the brightest and best opera festivals of 2017. Plus, remembering the velvet voice of Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda; individuality and imagination in the songs of Arthur Sullivan; Debussy’s ravishing Pelléas lets down its hair at Garsington; American baritone Scott Hendricks shares his love of playing bad boys; the art of the librettist; British conductor Nicholas Chalmers; and an 80th birthday tribute to Grace Bumbry.
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