Annual opera festival features DEAD MAN WALKING and a double bill of SCALIA/GINSBURG & TRIAL BY JURY;
SISTER HELEN PREJEAN makes special appearance

Wilmington, Del. OperaDelaware’s 2019 Festival (April 27-May 4), a bold exploration of law, redemption, and unlikely friendships in a divided world, opens in Wilmington this weekend. The Festival spotlights works that are accessible to newcomers but will also thrill lifelong opera fans. On the docket: a delightful double bill of SCALIA/GINSBURG, composer Derrick Wang's one-act opera about the friendship between Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, paired with TRIAL BY JURY, Gilbert & Sullivan's hilarious courtroom comedy. The company will also present one of the most successful contemporary operas of our time, Jake Heggie’s DEAD MAN WALKING. Based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean with a libretto by Terrence McNally, this modern masterpiece about a death row inmate and the nun who becomes his reluctant spiritual adviser “makes the most concentrated impact of any piece of American music theater since West Side Story.” [The Guardian] Performances will take place at The Grand (818 N. Market St., Wilmington). Tickets are now on sale at or by calling OperaDelaware’s Box Office at 302-442-7807. Limited tickets for press are still available. Contact Brendan Cooke, OperaDelaware’s General Director, at to reserve.

“We are beyond excited to bring these works to Delaware,” says Cooke. “DEAD MAN WALKING is one of the most successful operas of our time, and we’re also delighted to present the world premiere of a new orchestration of Derrick Wang’s brilliant SCALIA/GINSBURG, paired with Gilbert & Sullivan’s TRIAL BY JURY. Opera is an incredible vehicle for telling stories, and what stories we have to tell! These works — written in English, on (mostly) contemporary subjects — don’t preach about politics, the Constitution, or the death penalty, but they will certainly spark dialogue and challenge perspectives. The unifying theme of SCALIA/GINSBURG is ‘We are different, we are one,’ and we hope that our presentation of these works serves as a reminder that there are multiple valid viewpoints on every topic.”

DEAD MAN WALKING stars OperaDelaware audience favorites Timothy Mix (Amleto, 2016) as Joseph De Rocher and Aleks Romano (Semiramide, 2017) as Sister Helen Prejean. Adrienne Danrich (This Little Light of Mine, 2015) returns to sing the role of Sister Rose. Mezzo-soprano Jenni Bank makes her OperaDelaware debut as Mrs. De Rocher. Maestro Jerome Shannon (L’elisir d’amore, 2014) conducts the OperaDelaware Chorus and Orchestra, and Octavio Cardenas directs. (*Due to mature content, this opera is not recommended for patrons under the age of 15.*)

Sister Helen Prejean, whose best-selling book of the same name inspired the opera, will attend the opening performance of DEAD MAN WALKING on April 27. Patrons and the public are invited to meet Sister Helen Prejean at a book discussion and Q&A prior to the show at First & Central Presbyterian Church (1101 N. Market St.) beginning at 3:30 pm. This event is free, but reservations are required. Register now at

Comic double bill: SCALIA/GINSBURG will feature Soprano Jennifer Zetlan as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A frequent performer at the Metropolitan Opera, Ms. Zetlan, a Delaware native, got her start in OperaDelaware’s Family Opera Theater Program, starring in the world premiere of Libby Larsen’s A Wrinkle in Time (1992). The role of Justice Antonin Scalia will be sung by Brian Cheney (Werther, 2017), and the Commentator will be sung by OperaDelaware favorite Ben Wager, a graduate of Philadelphia’s prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts, who started his impressive career as a member of OperaDelaware’s chorus. SCALIA/GINSBURG will be directed by Fenlon Lamb and conducted by Sara Jobin. Ms. Jobin also conducts Gilbert & Sullivan’s TRIAL BY JURY, which will be directed by Cynthia du Pont Tobias. TRIAL BY JURY stars artists from the company’s new Young Artist Training Program: Anaïs Naharro-Murphy as Angelina (The Plantiff), Colin Doyle as Edwin (The Defendant), Ben Lowe as The Learned Judge, Orin Strunk (Counsel for the Plaintiff), Cody Müller (Usher), Dana MacIntosh (Bridesmaid), and Chelsea Duval-Major (Bridesmaid). This production is funded in part by a $14,000 Art Works Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, marking the fourth year in a row that OperaDelaware has been awarded this prestigious grant.

LEADING LADIES OFFSTAGE on May 2: OperaDelaware is thrilled to announce a recent addition to the 2019 Festival lineup, LEADING LADIES OFFSTAGE, a special concert at the OperaDelaware Studios featuring Aleks Romano (DEAD MAN WALKING) and Jennifer Zetlan (SCALIA/GINSBURG). Ms. Romano will perform Jake Heggie's Camille Claudel: Into the Fire, a song cycle for mezzo-soprano and string quartet, with texts by Gene Scheer; based on the life and work of French sculptor Claudel. Ms. Zetlan will sing Nico Muhly's Far Away Songs, which were written for her by the composer in 2012, accompanied by string quartet and piano. LEADING LADIES OFFSTAGE will also feature OperaDelaware Principal Pianist & Chorus Master, Aurelien Eulert. This special, one-night-only performance will take place on Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 pm at the OperaDelaware Studios (4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington, DE). Tickets, now on sale, are $45, General Admission.

FREE LECTURES WITH DIRECTORS AND CONDUCTORS: Patrons are also invited to attend informative pre-performance talks with Festival directors and conductors before each performance of DEAD MAN WALKING and SCALIA/GINSBURG & TRIAL BY JURY. The lectures begin one hour before curtain and take place in the Parquet Circle of the Copeland Hall in The Grand. Admission is free.


Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, May 4 at 2 pm

Sunday, April 28 at 2 pm
Friday, May 3 at 7:30 pm

Performances at The Grand, 818 N. Market St., Wilmington, DE

Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 pm

Performance at the OperaDelaware Studios, 4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington, DE


April 27, 6:30 pm: Octavio Cardenas (director, Dead Man Walking)

April 28, 1 pm: Fenlon Lamb (director, Scalia/Ginsburg) & Cynthia du Pont Tobias (director, Trial by Jury)

May 3, 6:30 pm: Sara Jobin (conductor, Scalia/Ginsburg & Trial by Jury)

May 4, 1 pm: Jerome Shannon (conductor, Dead Man Walking)

BOX OFFICE 302-442-7807



Top row, left to right: DEAD MAN WALKING’s Timothy Mix (baritone), Aleks Romano (mezzo soprano), Adrienne Danrich (soprano); Bottom row, left to right: SCALIA/GINSBURG’s Jennifer Zetlan (soprano), Brian Cheney (tenor), Ben Wager (bass baritone)


SISTER HELEN PREJEAN: The author of the best-selling book that inspired the opera DEAD MAN WALKING will attend opening night (April 27, 7:30 pm). Sister Helen will also make a special appearance at a free book discussion/Q&A at First & Central Presbyterian Church (April 27, 3:30 pm).


SCALIA/GINSBURG & TRIAL BY JURY: Photos from the recent sold-out concert productions of Scalia/Ginsburg & Trial by Jury at Baltimore Concert Opera, OperaDelaware's artistic partner. (Photos courtesy of Divatography.)


OperaDelaware celebrates its 74rd season in 2018-2019. OperaDelaware is the nation's 11th oldest professional opera company. Our mission is to enrich the lives of people in the Mid-Atlantic region through meaningful arts education and the production of grand opera and intimate opera concerts, featuring established professional and emerging talent.


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