Joyce DiDonato to Star in Ivo van Hove-Directed DEAD MAN WALKING at The Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera will open its 2023–24 season with the company premiere of Jake Heggie’s masterpiece Dead Man Walking on Tuesday, September 26, at 6:30PM.

By: Aug. 21, 2023
Joyce DiDonato to Star in Ivo van Hove-Directed DEAD MAN WALKING at The Metropolitan Opera
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The Metropolitan Opera will open its 2023–24 season with the company premiere of Jake Heggie’s masterpiece Dead Man Walking on Tuesday, September 26, at 6:30PM, kicking off a historic season featuring more recent work than any other season in modern Met history. Based on Sister Helen Prejean’s memoir, with a libretto by Tony and Emmy Award–winner Terrence McNally, the story follows Sister Helen’s fight for the soul of a condemned murderer. After his debut with a critically acclaimed production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the 2022–23 season, Tony Award–winning director Ivo van Hove returns with a staging that explores the nature of love, forgiveness, and redemption.

Leading the star-studded cast, Grammy Award–winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is Sister Helen, alongside bass-baritone Ryan McKinny as death-row inmate Joseph De Rocher, soprano Latonia Moore as Sister Rose, and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, who originated the role of Sister Helen in the opera’s 2000 premiere, as De Rocher’s mother. Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met’s Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director, conducts what has become the most performed contemporary work of the past two decades. Steven Osgoodconducts the performances on October 8 and 12. Following Opening Night on September 26, there are eight additional performances through October 21.

“Dead Man Walking as the 2023–24 season opener signifies our commitment to advance the art form,” said Peter Gelb, the company’s Maria Manetti Shrem General Manager. “It is with new work that opera will attract younger and more diverse audiences.”

“Music challenges us to live up to the most glorious version of ourselves,” says Maestro Nézet-Séguin. “The Met is invested in being a part of that sacred journey, and my hope is that the music and experiences we present on our stage touch the deepest parts of our audiences’ souls.”

Dead Man Walking’s creative team also includes set and lighting designer Jan Versweyveld, costume designer An D’Huys, projection designer Christopher Ash, and sound designer Tom Gibbons in his Met debut.

Sister Helen Prejean is known as a champion of social justice, having dedicated her life to eradicating the death penalty. Her award-winning memoir—which was also turned into an Academy Award–winning movie starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn—followed her work as a spiritual advisor to men on death row.  Sister Helen’s 40 years of advocacy have been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on capital punishment and in shaping the Catholic Church’s vigorous opposition to all executions.

The 2023–24 season also includes three additional Met premieres—Anthony Davis’s X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X (Nov. 3–Dec. 2);Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas (Nov. 16–Dec. 14), the company’s first opera in Spanish in nearly a century; and John Adams’s El Niño (Apr. 23–May17)—as well as revivals of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones and Kevin Puts’s The Hours, showcasing the Met’s dedication to expanding the repertoire and to reaching new audiences. While one-third of the operas presented this season are recent works, the lineup also includes a full slate of classics, among them new productions of Bizet’s Carmen (Dec. 31–Jan. 27; Apr. 25–May 25) and Verdi’s La Forza del Destino (Feb. 26–Mar. 29) and revivals of works by Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Gounod, Mozart, and Gluck.

Opening Night Simulcast in Times Square, September 26, 6:30PM ET

A free live simulcast of the Opening Night performance will be broadcast on Tuesday, September 26, at 6:30PM ET on multiple screens in Times Square, a tradition that returns for its 17th season. Approximately 2,000 seats will be available in Times Square, all on a first-come, first-served basis. This audience will be joining the 3,800 attendees inside the opera house in experiencing the performance.

Seating at Times Square will open at 5PM and is available on Duffy Square and the Broadway Plazas, between 43rd and 44th Streets and 46th and 47th Streets, respectively. The participating screens in Times Square include the ABC SuperSign; American Eagle Times Square; Branded Cities’ NASDAQ Tower; Clear Channel Spectacolor HD 126, 127, and 128; and EXPRESS Times Square.

The live transmission to Times Square is made possible with the cooperation of the City of New York, with leadership support provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies and additional support from Bank of America.

The simulcast is presented in partnership with the Times Square Alliance.

Dead Man Walking Worldwide Broadcasts in Cinema, Radio, and Online

The performance of Dead Man Walking on Saturday, October 21,  will be transmitted live to movie theaters around the globe as part of the Met’s Live in HD series. Students from districts across the country will experience a free theater screening of

Dead Man Walking on Saturday, October 21 as part of the Met’s HD Live in Schools program.

The September 26, October 6, and October 18 performances of Dead Man Walking will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SiriusXM Channel 355. Audio from the September 26 performance will also be streamed live on the Met’s website, Audio from the October 21 performance will be rebroadcast over The Robert K. Johnson Foundation–Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network on Saturday, January 20.

In conjunction with the performances of Dead Man Walking, the Met is scheduled to host a number of public programs in partnership with Sister Helen Prejean. The full list of events and details are below.

Dead Man Walking Public Programs and Special Events

Works & Process at the Guggenheim: Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie, libretto by Terrence McNally

September 18, 7:30PM

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Peter B. Lewis Theater, 1071 Fifth Avenue

Experience highlights from the most widely performed new opera of the last 20 years, Dead Man Walking, before the highly anticipated Met premiere on September 26. American composer Jake Heggie’s masterpiece has been reimagined in a haunting new production by Ivo van Hove. Based on Sister Helen Prejean’s memoir about her fight for the soul of a condemned murderer, Dead Man Walking matches the high drama of its subject with Heggie’s beautiful and poignant music and a brilliant libretto by

Terrence McNally. Met General Manager Peter Gelb moderates a discussion with the creative team, and members of the cast perform selections from the opera. For further details, please click here.

LIVE from New York Public Library (NYPL)

September 19, 7PM

Based on Sister Helen Prejean’s groundbreaking memoir of the same name, Dead Man Walking is the story of Prejean’s fight for the soul of a condemned murderer. At the library, two of the show’s stars, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato (Sister Helen) and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny (Joseph de Rocher), will deliver a short performance from the opera and then join Sister Helen Prejean in conversation to discuss the new production and Prejean’s unswerving commitment to fighting the death penalty. They’ll speak with Shamil Idriss, the Chief Executive Officer of Search for Common Ground. This event is free of charge, however registration is required. For further details, please click here.

Presented in partnership with NYPL and Search for Common Ground.


September 24, 3:15PM

On the occasion of the premiere of the Met Opera’s haunting new production of the American composer Jack Heggie’s masterpiece Dead Man Walking by Ivo van Hove, Metrograph presents another work also inspired by the 1993 best-selling memoir by Sister Helen Prejean that sparked a national debate over the question of capital punishment: Tim Robbins’s 1995 filmic adaptation of the same name. Susan Sarandon won an Academy Award for Best Actress for Robbins’s wrenching death row drama, for her portrayal of Sister Helen, a Roman Catholic nun who becomes spiritual advisor to convicted murderer and rapist Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn). “Demonstrates how a movie can confront a grave and controversial issue in our society and see it fairly, from all sides, not take any shortcuts, and move the audience to a great emotional experience without unfair manipulation.”—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

For further details, please click here.

The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture

September 25, 7PM


In advance of its season-opening production of Jake Heggie’s masterpiece Dead Man Walking, the Metropolitan Opera partners with The Sheen Center to present a discussion addressing the impact of the arts on social justice practices and the relationships among faith, prison reform, and the death penalty. Sister Helen Prejean, author of the memoir Dead Man Walking, joins scholars, ministers, and advocates of the formerly incarcerated to explore the tribulations of the American prison system and the opportunity for art and literature to prompt change. This event is free of charge; however registration is required. For further details, please click here.

Fridays Under 40

The Met’s Fridays Under 40 series continues Friday, October 6 at 6PM, with a party ahead of the evening performance of Dead Man Walking. Available exclusively for operagoers 40 and under, the event features complimentary wine and more.

For further details, please click here.

For More Information

For further details on Dead Man Walking, including casting by date, please click here.

Photo credit: aola Kudacki / Met Opera


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