Reviews: What Did Critics Think of Dead Man Walking at the Metropolitan Opera? | Playbill

The Verdict Reviews: What Did Critics Think of Dead Man Walking at the Metropolitan Opera?

The NYC institution kicked off its 2023-24 season with the house premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's opera September 26.

A scene from Dead Man Walking at The Metropolitan Opera Karen Almond / Met Opera

The Metropolitan Opera's 2023-24 season opened September 26 with the company premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's Dead Man Walking—and the reviews are in!

Based on the memoir of the same name by Sister Helen Prejean about her experience as spiritual adviser to convicted murderers on death row, Dead Man Walking has become one of the most frequently-produced operas of the 21st century since its premiere 23 years ago. Joyce DiDonato stars as Sister Helen in the new production directed by Ivo van Hove, joined by Ryan McKinny as the convicted Joseph De Rocher, and Susan Graham, who played Sister Helen at the opera's premiere, as De Rocher's mother.

Read the reviews here.

BroadwayWorld (Richard Sasanow)
New York Classical Review (David Wright)
The New York Times (Zachary Woolfe)*

OperaWire (David Salazar)
Theatermania (Zachary Stewart)
The Washington Post (Michael Andor Brodeur)*

*This review requires creating a free account or a paid subscription.

Playbill will continue to update this list as reviews come in.

Also in the cast are Latonia Moore as Sister Rose, Raymond Aceto as Warden George Benton, and Rodney Gilfry as Owen Hart. Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts. Ivo van Hove's production features scenic and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld, costume design by An D’Huys, projection design by Christopher Ash, and sound design by Tom Gibbons.

Dead Man Walking is Ivo van Hove's second opera production with the Met, following his production of Don Giovanni which opened in May. This pairing of director and opera is emblematic of the season to come, which will emphasize contemporary works and modern re-imaginings of classics.

Of the season's six new productions, four will be Met premieres of works from within the past forty years: Dead Man Walking; Anthony Davis' X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, directed by Robert O'Hara; Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas, directed by Mary Zimmerman; and John Adams' El Niño, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. The new productions of classics will be Bizet’s Carmen, directed by Carrie Cracknell; and Verdi's La Forza del Destino, directed by Mariusz Treliński. The season will also include revivals of contemporary hits from recent seasons: Terence Blanchard's Fire Shut Up In My Bones, and Kevin Puts' The Hours, the latter of which will see the return of its original stars, Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, and Kelli O'Hara.

Performances of Dead Man Walking continue through October 21.

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