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Opéra de Montréal's Dead Man Walking nets glowing reviews, but we won't see it in Toronto

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in Dead Man Walking (Opéra de Montréal photo).
Étienne Dupuis and Allyson McHardy in Dead Man Walking (Opéra de Montréal photo).

Tenor John Mac Master has proudly shared the glowing reviews for Opéra de Montréal’s current production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, which stars mezzo Allyson McHardy as Sister Helen Préjean and Étienne Dupuis as the condemned Joseph de Rocher.

It’s ironic that one would have to go to Montreal to hear a fine mainstage production of an English-language opera — and one whose cast is populated by English Canadians.

Mac Master sings the role of father Grenville in this Alain Gauthier-directed production. Besides McHardy, Torontonians in the show include Kimberly Barber (De Rocher’s wife) and Alain Coulombe (George Benton).

LaPresse critic Claude Gingras admitted that the power of the production left him at a loss for words, which is an occasion in itself.

Christophe Huss, writing in Le Devoir, opened his review of Saturday’s first performance by writing:

We have been lied to! For the last 60 years certain people have tried to make us believe that new music is a bitter pill made up of ingredients we could not possibly understand — and the less we can digest, the more fun it will be. Really?

He goes on to praise the work — as all three critics do to a greater or lesser degree — the director and the cast.

Are we unlikely to see this now-13-year-old provien-hit opera by Jake Heggie in Toronto because it’s too accessible? We’re such a serious city, artistically speaking, aren’t we?

You can read the Gazette review here, the LaPresse review here, and the Le Devoir review here.

There are three performances remaining at Montreal’s acoustically challenged Salle Wilfrid Pelletier — tonight, Thursday and Saturday. You’ll find details here.

John Terauds

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