Saturday Opera Offers Alternative Story Of Jesus and Mary

Oct 14, 2013

On Saturday morning at 10, JPR will present the radio broadcast premiere of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Mark Adamo, performed by the San Francisco Opera.

Yeshua (Nathan Gunn), with Mary Magdalene (Sasha Cooke)

The libretto is by the composer who based it on fragments of an ancient gnostic gospel found in the 1870's in Egypt. Over its roughly three hours, the opera attempts to amend the traditional tale of Yeshua (Jesus) and places the title character at the center of the story.  

We spoke to pastor and JPR announcer Kurt Katzmar, who said, "The centuries have not been kind to Mary Magdalene (or Maryam Migdal in Aramaic), probably through fear of her feminine power and intelligence. Recent scholarship maintains that Mary was a far more important figure…than she has been given credit for. In fact, migdal means tower in Hebrew thus her name might really mean Mary the Great. Was she Jesus' wife… or the 'beloved disciple' mentioned in the Gospel of John?”

The opera had its world premiere at the San Francisco Opera this past June and stars mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as Mary and baritone Nathan Gunn as Yeshua. The music is in a romantic style with rich, tonal harmonies, lush orchestrations and arching, singable melodies with excellent performances by the principals, chorus and orchestra.

Tune in Saturday morning, October 19th at 10am on the Classics & News Service to hear the full performance of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, by Mark Adamo.

The full text and support materials regarding the ​ancient gnostic gospel can be found here.

Reviews have been mostly positive:
San Francisco Chronicle
New York Times
Huffington Post

The San Francisco Opera has put together a 5-minute excerpt of the production.