Philip Cutlip in Dead Man Walking, photo by Felix Sanchez, Houston ChronicleThe opera of Dead Man Walking, with Jake Heggie’s inspiring music and Terrance McNally’s thoughtful, powerful libretto, is currently being performed at the Houston Grand Opera. It’s getting rave reviews, such as the one by Everett Evans, The Houston Chronicle’s arts writer, who says:

Absolute in its skill and devastating in its power, Houston Grand Opera’s Dead Man Walking more than lives up to the reputation that this uncompromising and thoroughly engrossing work has acquired since its world premiere at San Francisco Opera a decade ago.

I had the great fortune to be in Houston for a symposium organized in conjunction with the opera. At that symposium, religious leaders joined together and pledged to fight the death penalty in Texas. It’s a sign of change in this, the most death-loving of execution states. Already we’ve seen the rate of executions decline, the number of new death sentences imposed by juries drop, and public concern about the death penalty on the increase.

The opera is a part of this rising discourse about the death penalty. If you’re in Houston in the next week or two, see if you can get yourself some tickets to the performance.