Opera Parallele: Dead Man Walking, Heart of Darkness

by Janos Gereben, September 17, 2014

Nicole Paiement and Brian Staufenbiel have announced Opera Parallèle’s next season: Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (Feb. 20-March 7) and Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness (May 1-3).

Both operas, according to the announcement, are “based on significant literary works, plumb the depths of human emotion, resilience, fortitude, hope and redemption, making them ideal subjects for the operatic stage and for Opera Parallèle’s brand of story-telling and rich exploration of the human experience in provocative and intense stagings.”

Heggie’s opera, commissioned and premiered by San Francisco Opera in 2000, and performed both nationally and internationally, is based on Sister Helen Prejean’s 1993 memoir. The cast consists of Jennifer Rivera (Sister Helen Prejean), Michael Mayes (Joe DeRocher), Catherine Cook (Mrs. DeRocher), Talise Trevigne (Sister Rose), Robert Orth (Owen Hart); along with Kristin Clayton, Michelle Rice, Joseph Mayers, Mark Hernandez, Jonathan Smucker, and members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus.

Based on the 1899 novella by Joseph Conrad, O’Regan’s one-act opera, with libretto by Tom Phillips, was premiered in a co-production by Opera East and ROH2 at the Royal Opera House/Linbury Theatre in London in 2011. The cast will include Isaiah Bell (Marlow), Matthew Stump (Kurtz), Jonathan Blalock (Manager/Secretary), Thomas Glenn (Accountant/Helmsman), Daniel Cilli (Thames Captain), Crystal Kim (Fiancée), Shawnette Sulker (River Woman), Jonathan Boyd (Harlequin), and John Bischoff (Doctor/Bowlermaker).

The Guardian’s review said: “75 minutes of intense, sinister storytelling, combining crystal-clear narrative with complex ideas about idealism and self-delusion.”

Both productions will be led by Paiement on the podium, with production design and direction by Opera Parallèle Creative Director Staufenbiel, and members of the creative team responsible for OP’s acclaimed productions of Orphée, The Great Gatsby, Ainadamar, and Trouble in Tahiti. Read More…