Inmates from an eastern Iowa prison have spent weeks learning German and perfecting inflections to make their New York City opera debut in a broadcast performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio.
Heartbeat Opera invited the Oakdale Community Choir to perform the Prisoner’s Chorus for its New York City live production in May.
Production Director Ethan Heard traveled to the medium-security prison in Coralville, Iowa, on Wednesday to record the choir, comprised of 40 inmates and 30 community members. It’s among six choirs being recorded singing for a pivotal scene.
Inmate Shane Kendrick says any humanizing depiction of inmates is good for them and the community that they’ll re-enter.
Heard tells the Iowa City Press-Citizen that the idea to reimagine Fidelio came to him when he began exploring injustice in today’s prison system.