We witness their bond construct a bit, and due to DiDonato, McKinny and van Hove, it’s affecting, with De Rocher’s sympathetic mom and the victims’ livid dad and mom including some exterior stress to the central pair.
However there’s no actual urgency to the result, no sense of deep mutual revelation or cat-and-mouse shock or disaster of religion, even with the clock ticking and the constraints of imprisonment — the identical parts that gave, say, “The Silence of the Lambs” its thrilling, perversely romantic stakes.
As a substitute, there may be merely regular, swelling tenderness, for which Heggie’s cloudless lyricism is apt. He’s invented a candy hymn that turns into Sister Helen’s leitmotif. For a sweeping ensemble bringing her along with Joseph’s mom and the dad and mom of the victims, he turns to wash neo-Baroque chords, richly organized, to steadiness emotion and readability. If Heggie’s scene transitions and climaxes are likely to blare, he offers voices ample room to take flight.
DiDonato, the spotlight of “The Hours” on the Met final season as a solemnly mellow-toned Virginia Woolf, manages the identical magnetic self-possession right here, although Sister Helen’s music — not like Woolf’s — pushes her lean, eloquent mezzo-soprano into a skinny, tight excessive register.
Her diction is pristine, as is McKinny’s — and his warmly strong bass-baritone voice makes De Rocher’s humanity evident from the beginning. Amongst a crowded and glorious supporting forged, the mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, who originated the function of Sister Helen, has returned as a fantastically dignified Mrs. De Rocher. (It added to the poignancy that Frederica von Stade, who performed the mom in 2000, was within the viewers on Tuesday, as was the actual Sister Helen, now 84.)