Sophomore music education major and Concert Chorale member Austin Dean was recently announced as the older of two younger brothers of lead character Joseph de Rocher in Houston Grand Opera’s upcoming production of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s Dead Man Walking.
Dean, a student of Moores School of Music voice professor Melanie Sonnenberg, will work alongside performers Philip Cutlip (playing convicted murderer Joseph de Rocher), Joyce DiDonato (Sister Helen Prejean), Frederica von Stade (Joseph’s mother), and MSM professor Hector Vásquez (prison warden George Benton). Leonard Foglia will serve as director for the production.
“This role looks to be the learning experience of a lifetime,” Dean said. “I feel so honored and grateful to be a part of something so massive and beautiful! The entire Moores School of Music family and voice area have been so supportive, and for that I am truly grateful. I am humbled by the opportunity to represent the Moores School of Music, as well as the University of Houston, in this exciting project!”
Dead Man Walking tells the story of Joseph de Rocher, a death row inmate convicted of murdering a teenage girl and her boyfriend. He writes his pen pal, a missionary nun named Helen, and asks her to become her spiritual advisor. Throughout the course of the opera and against the suggestions of her friends and colleagues, Helen supports Joseph as he goes through appeals, requests for pardon, and a personal struggle to confess his crime and make peace with himself, his mother, the victims’ families, and God.
Houston Grand Opera’s production of Dead Man Walking runs January 22, 2011, through February 6, 2011, at the Wortham Center. For tickets and information, visit http://www.houstongrandopera.org/tickets/calendar/view.aspx?id=1418 or call 713-228-OPERA (6737).