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HEGGIE: Dead Man Walking - Joyce DiDonato (2 CDs)

HEGGIE: Dead Man Walking - Joyce DiDonato (2 CDs)

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Cathartic, uplifting and humanizing" wrote the Houston Grand Opera production of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking. Joyce DiDonato as Sister Helen Prejean, who becomes a counselor to murderer on death row in Louisiana, share the stage with her idol, veteran mezzo Frederica Von Stade, here making her farewell to opera. Like Tim Robbins' 1995 movie of the same name, 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," continued the Houston Chronicle, "Dead Man Walking makes it's greatest impact as a purely human one." 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 1990's 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.

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