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  Dead Man Walking Reviews
Dead Man Walking
Lyric Opera

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...The "Dead Man Walking" staging by Leonard Foglia is forbiddingly evocative of institutional steel and fluorescence when it needs to be. A streamlined, multi-platform set on lifts by Michael McGarty and projections by Elaine J. McCarthy together allow for seamless switching from the claustrophobia of a prison cell on death row to a Louisiana children's schoolroom, a lakeside trysting area, a highway mirroring Sister Prejean's anxious journey, and the forbidding prison labyrinth among spaces swiftly summoned."
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Nancy Malitz



Chicago On the Aisle- Highly Recommended

"...This is “Dead Man Walking,” the magnificent and widely performed opera forged 19 years ago by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally, brought to life once more through a shattering confluence of music and theater at Lyric Opera of Chicago."
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Lawrence B. Johnson



Stage and Cinema- Recommended

"...There’s no doubt that this is a thoroughly American opera, and a very contemporary one. Although the debate on capital punishment has moved forward considerably since this opera’s premiere, the conversation on prisons remains timely. But Dead Man Walking isn’t a political piece; it’s a very human story of love and redemption. Heggie’s opera runs a bit long (roughly three hours) and loud, but Lyric’s production does it full justice."
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Barnaby Hughes



Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Adapted by composer Jack Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally from the memoirs of Sister Helen Prejean, it depicts an execution and Prejean’s spiritual ministering to a condemned man. Dissonant and imposing, few compositions could be grimmer, but it is also tender enough to fascinate and elicit the audience’s vulnerability."
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Jacob Davis



NewCity Chicago- Somewhat Recommended

"...In this very American tale, Heggie’s music is thin, eerie, atmospheric and unmemorable, while McNally’s lyrics are at times irritatingly trite, a quality that is magnified by the inconsistent application of southern accents (“I believe that I’m bad. Way bad,” sings De Rocher during a moment of gravity and purported insight). The only tune you’re likely to leave with is, “He will gather us around,” a hymn melodically reminiscent of “This Train is Bound for Glory,” sung by Sister Helen and the children she teaches at Hope House, the school where she is assigned."
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Irene Hsiao



Chicagoland Musical Theatre- Highly Recommended

"...The performers carry it off excellently and, while the production has many moments of transcendent artistry both before and after this scene, this scene epitomizes how the medium of opera allows for this story’s themes to be explored with a depth that simply cannot be matched by a visual medium like film. Opera allows patron an access to the characters’ inner lives that simply cannot be matched."
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Bryson David Hoff



Chicago Theater and Arts- Highly Recommended

"...A number of factors make the Lyric production particularly powerful. Racette and McKinny perfectly act out McNally’s cut-to-the-heart libretto. Heggie’s dramatic music is well-interpreted by conducted by Nicole Paiement of San Francisco’s Opera Parallele."
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Jodie Jacobs



Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...From the first notes, the overture flutes, oboes, and clarinet swirl to create a premonition of feeling unsettled, much as this issue does. The pace of the music waxes up and down throughout, letting us better feel the turmoil. One hears the superlative singing that one expects, and always gets at the Lyric."
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Amy Munice