Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dead Man Walking

When we went to the opera last week, my Mum and I not only went to the ever-popular Turandot, but also to the modern opera Dead Man Walking, by Jake Heggie. The story is the same as the one in the movie with Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn (I think it's Sean Penn - I never saw the movie), i.e. the story of Sister Prejean, how she started writing to a prisoner on Death Row, met him and became his spiritual advisor, right to the end, when he finally admitted his guilt and asked for forgiveness, and was executed by lethal injection. It is a story that makes you think about capital punishment and question what it really achieves.

Not exactly uplifting, says you! But it actually had some humour in it, and I did shed a few tears at the end, such was the power of the whole opera. The music itself was good, but not as striking as I was expecting - it had been compared to Porgy and Bess, but it was nothing like it. I felt a lot of the singing was kind of talking to music, rather than singing songs, if you know what I mean (actually one of the reviews on the Amazon website describes this much better than me, so have a look at it!) That said, one of the songs still sticks in my head, more than a week later - one of the main ensemble pieces, where the parents of the 2 murdered teenagers are singing "you don't know what it's like to lose a child" - haunting...I should look for the CD, just for that song, really.

Like Turandot, the stage production was excellent, making good use of all modern devices - good lighting, simple sets with strong design elements, and screen projections on the backdrop.

The singing was gorgeous - the Swedish mezzo-soprano who plays sister Prejean was top-class - a strong voice that carried her through the whole performance - there was hardly any moment where she wasn't on stage and singing. And the baritone who plays Joe de Rocher was amazing too - he actually sings one of his main songs while doing push-ups, and, wait for it, even push-ups where he claps his hands every time his body lifts!

If you want to listen to samples, have a look at the amazon.com website.

No comments:

Post a Comment