This summer the Des Moines Metro Opera presented their 42nd Festival Season at Blank Center for the Performing Arts on the Simpson College campus in Indianola. The mainstage performances included Verdi’s La Traviata, Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and Rossini’s Le Comte Ory. Heggie’s work, based on the book of the same name by Sister Helen Prejean, tells the story of a nun acting as a spiritual guide to a death-row inmate who was found guilty of murder. It offers a haunting inside look at capital punishment in America. Here is what Opera News and Opera Today had to say about the Des Moines Metro Opera's production:
"The venue itself was perhaps the most perfect space imaginable to invest the work with such soul-stirring impact. In that moment before we dared break the silence with applause, someone a couple rows behind me broke out in heaving sobs. I cannot imagine a more powerful production of this engrossing opera.”—Opera Today
"This was one of the most shattering evenings I have ever spent in a theater.”—Opera News
“As the murderer Joseph de Rocher, David Adam Moore is also now surely without equal in this part.”—Opera Today
“In Elise Quagliata, the creators may have found their most powerful Helen yet.”—Opera Today
As part of their production of Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, the Des Moines Metro Opera hosted several community outreach opportunities including a screening of the movie adaption, an art exhibit, a discussion with panelists from the opera and from Drake University Law School discussing the American Death penalty, and discussions with both composer Jake Heggie and humanitarian author Sister Helen Prejean. Iowa Public Radio had special access to both Heggie and Sister Helen, as well as two of the lead vocalists from the DMMO’s production, mezzo soprano Elise Quagliata who portrayed Sister Helen and baritone David Adam Moore who sang the role of inmate Joseph De Rocher. Listen to in-depth responses to the production of Dead Man Walking in the exclusive interviews below, and tune in to Iowa Public Radio’s Opera in October series this weekend to hear the full performance of Dead Man Walking on Saturday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m. and again on Sunday, October 12 at 8:00 p.m.