October 10, 2019

Critical Acclaim for Dead Man Walking

Dead Man Walking is one of the most riveting operas of the 21st century. With music that is superbly imaginative, instantly accessible, and totally memorable, an unsparingly honest, devastatingly moving text libretto, and virtuosic singing by a star-studded cast, it combines the best of traditional, grand opera with the striking relevancy and poignant subject matter of a contemporary masterpiece.

Since its world premiere in 2000, Dead Man Walking has had more than 70 productions nationally and internationally that have been met with overwhelming critical acclaim. Read selections from the opera's many accolades below and consider joining us for this important Lyric premiere, on stage November 2-22.

Dead Man Walking makes the most concentrated impact of any piece of American music theater since West Side Story...a historic achievement.

The Guardian

Heggie is an unabashed melodist. His music is rich and emotionally charged...There is a sweep to this work which can only be called inspired...Heggie's achievement is simply immense.

The Guardian

Terrence McNally's craftily plotted libretto...deals less with the politics of capital punishment than with personal issues of forgiveness, retribution and redemption.

New York Magazine

A watershed moment in contemporary American opera.

USA Today

A masterpiece — a gripping, enormously skillful marriage of words and music to tell a story of love, suffering and spiritual redemption.

San Francisco Chronicle

The most compelling piece of musical theater I encountered this season was Jake Heggie's and Terrence McNally's Dead Man Walking.

Wall Street Journal

The crowd roared its approval in a substantial standing ovation.

Los Angeles Times

A compelling story simply told.

Los Angeles Times

The most compelling new American opera in decades.

Associated Press

Full of powerful musical and dramatic momentum...it was an accomplished piece of theater.

Opera Now

The combined power of words and music is a verismo tour de force.

Opera Now

It is to the great credit of librettist Terrence McNally and composer Jake Heggie that the opera never becomes a moral treatise on the rights and wrongs of the death penalty; nor does it sentimentalise or sensationalize its subjectmatter. Instead, Dead Man Walking engages its audience by exploring human motivations and frailties that are at work in a desperate situation — to love or to hate: that is the stark alternative proposed by the opera.

Opera Now

His music has a gleaming sincerity and never overplays its hand... impressively crafted.

Opera News


[Dead Man Walking] appeals directly to the heart.

Financial Times (London)

[Dead Man Walking is] really the stuff of grand opera.

Time Out New York

Heggie's music is equal to the emotionally intense subject, combining rich, appealing, singable lines for the able principal singers with a taut cinematic flow driven by McNally's libretto.

Chicago Tribune on the CD