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Heggie: Dead Man Walking / Summers, Bruggergosman, Didonato, Von Stade

Heggie / Didonato,Joyce
Release Date: 04/24/2012 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 2463   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jake Heggie
Performer:  Measha BrüggergosmanJoyce DiDonatoFrederica Von StadePhilip Cutlip
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Houston Grand Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Length: 2 Hours 22 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

“Cathartic, uplifting and humanizing” wrote the Houston Chronicle, reporting on this Houston Grand Opera production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. Joyce DiDonato as Sister Helen Prejean, who becomes a counsellor to murderer on death row in Louisiana, shares the stage with her idol, veteran mezzo Frederica von Stade, here making her farewell to opera.

“Joyce DiDonato returns to her New York City Opera role as Sister Helen and her life-changing portrayal proves an absolute revelation,” wrote the Houston Chronicle when the American mezzo soprano assumed the role of the nun Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking, premiered in 2000 in San Francisco and staged with DiDonato at Houston Grand Opera in late
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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 counsellor to a prisoner on death row in Louisiana. “However great an operatic and theatrical experience,” continued 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 an 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 artists programme, 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.

“The rafters [shook] …” wrote Opera magazine, “thanks to the ovations for Joyce DiDonato, Philip Cutlip [playing the convicted Joseph De Rocher], the music director Patrick Summers and perhaps especially for Frederica von Stade, whose recreation of the role of the convicted murderer’s grieving mother in this run ended this beloved artist’s 41-year operatic career … DiDonato sang luminously, affectingly conveying the altruistic nun’s conflicting emotions … Von Stade was dramatically and musically heartbreaking in a role written for her, Measha Brueggergosman’s glowing soprano and spunky acting enriched her portrayal of Sister Rose … Summers … was in total sync with Heggie’s churning, throbbing, colourful score … Leonard Foglia’s staging was … chillingly effective.”
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Works on This Recording

1.
Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie
Performer:  Measha Brüggergosman (Soprano), Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano), Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano),
Philip Cutlip (Bass)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Houston Grand Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998-2000; USA 

Sound Samples

Dead Man Walking: Prelude
Dead Man Walking: Prologue: Watching you, every day (Song on radio, Boy, Girl, Joseph De Rocher, Anthony De Rocher)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 1 - Hope House: He will gather us around (Sister Helen, Children, Sister Rose)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 1 - Hope House: Heavens! Look at the time (Sister Rose, First mother, Sister Lillianne, Sister Catherine, Jimmy Charlton, Mrs Charlton, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 2 - The drive to Angola State Prison: "Be careful," people have always told me (Sister Helen, Motor cop)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 2 - The drive to Angola State Prison: This journey (Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 3 - Outside of Angola State Penitentiary: Sister Helen? I've been waiting for you (Father Grenville, Sister Helen, Inmates)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 4 - Father Grenville's office: Some of them didn't look so bad (Sister Helen, Father Grenville)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 4 - Father Grenville's office: I don't like that man (Sister Helen, Warden)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 5 - The walk through Death Row: Woman on the tier! (Guards, Inmates, Warden, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 6 - The Death Row visiting room: Thank you (Sister Helen, Inmates, Warden, Joseph)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 6 - The Death Row visiting room: Are you frightened? (Sister Helen, Joseph)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 6 - The Death Row visiting room: You ever been with a man? (Joseph, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 6 - The Death Row visiting room: Five more minutes, De Rocher (First guard, Joseph, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 7 - The Pardon Board hearing: The defendant's mother, Mrs Patrick De Rocher (Paralegal, Older brother, Joseph's mother)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 7 - The Pardon Board hearing: Joe, my Joe, is not a bad boy (Joseph's mother, Owen Hart)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 7 - The Pardon Board hearing: What you all say my Joe did is so terrible (Joseph's mother)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 8 - The parking lot outside the courthouse: It's a good sign when they take so long to decide (Sister Rose, Sister Helen, Owen Hart, Jade Boucher, Kitty Hart, Howard Boucher)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 8 - The parking lot outside the courthouse: You don't know what it's like to bear a child (Jade Boucher, Kitty Hart, Sister Helen, Howard Boucher, Owen Hart, Joseph's mother)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 8 - The parking lot outside the courthouse: I'm sorry. So sorry (Sister Helen, Owen Hart, Jade Boucher, Howard Boucher, Kitty Hart, Paralegal, Sister Rose)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 9 - The Death Row visiting room: Guess your nun ain't comin' back, De Rocher (First guard, Sister Helen, Joseph)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 9 - The Death Row visiting room: I believe in the here and now (Joseph, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 9 - The Death Row visiting room: The Bible says "the truth will set you free." (Sister Helen, Joseph, Warden) - Scene 10 - The waiting room: Excuse me. Do you have any change? (Sister Helen, First guard)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 10 - The waiting room: He will gather us around (Children, Sister Rose, Inmates, Sister Helen, Joseph, Motor cop, Joseph's mother, Kitty and Owen Hart, Jade and Howard Boucher, Father Grenville)
Dead Man Walking, Act I: Scene 10 - The waiting room: What happened? (Sister Helen, Warden, Sisters, Children, Joseph, Kitty and Owen Hart, Jade and Howard Boucher, Joseph's mother, Inmates, Motor cop, Father Grenville)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 1 - Joseph's cell: 31 ... 32 ... 33 ... (Joseph, Warden)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 1 - Joseph's cell: Everybody hear that? (Joseph, Warden, Inmates)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 1 - Joseph's cell: The girl. I remember the girl (Joseph)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 2 - Sister Helen's bedroom: Oh! ... Now and at the hour of our death. Amen (Sister Helen, Sister Rose)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 2 - Sister Helen's bedroom: God's love and forgiveness (Sister Rose, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 3 - Joseph's cell. August 4 in the evening: Well? Well? (Inmates) - What time is it? (Joseph, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 3 - Joseph's cell. August 4 in the evening: I'm scared, OK? (Joseph, Sister Helen, First guard)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 4 - The visiting room: The new Ford Mustangs are so cool (Joseph's brothers, Joseph, Joseph's mother, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 4 - The visiting room: All those people out there (Joseph's mother, Sister Helen, First guard, Joseph, Second guard, Younger brother, Warden)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 4 - The visiting room: Don't say a word (Joseph's mother, Joseph, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 4 - The visiting room: Who will walk with me? (Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 5 - Outside of the Death House: Good evening (Sister Helen, Howard and Jade Boucher, Kitty and Owen Hart, Second guard)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 5 - Outside of the Death House: I've said some harsh things (Owen Hart, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 6 - Joseph's holding cell: You're a regular illustrated man, De Rocher (First guard, Second guard, Inmates)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 7 - The Confession: How much longer? How much more time? (Joseph, Sister Helen, Inmates)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 7 - The Confession: We'd been drinkin' and smokin' weed at the road house (Joseph, Sister Helen)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 7 - The Confession: I killed her (Joseph, Sister Helen, Warden, Father Grenville)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 8 - The Execution: Dead Man Walking! (Warden, Father Grenville, Joseph, Sister Helen, Kitty and Owen Hart, Jade and Howard Boucher, Guards, Sisters and Mothers of the prayer vigil outside the prison, Inmates)
Dead Man Walking, Act II: Scene 8 - The Execution: He will gather us around, all around (Sister Helen)

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