Drawing on the Gnostic gospels, the canonical gospels, and fifty years of New Testament scholarship, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene reimagines the New Testament through the eyes of its lone substantial female character. At first, this Mary Magdalene, like so many moderns, searches for meaning and purpose in erotic love alone. But her entanglement with Jesus of Nazareth—as mentor, soulmate, and co-minister—teaches her to distinguish love from possession, even as it teaches him to see the moral dignity of women. Mary’s clashes with Jesus’s disciple Peter (minutely described in the Gnostic Gospels) suggest how the personal politics within Jesus’ movement may have played out in its own place and time. And this opera imagines a version of Mary’s vision at Jesus’s tomb which—had it shaped the Christian story the way Peter’s version of it did— might have left us a radically, radiantly different Western world.
MARY MAGDALENE, mezzo-soprano
TWO POLICE, tenor, baritone
FOLLOWERS, TTBB Quartet or Octet*
ENSEMBLE RÔLES. (under six lines)
TAMAR, s. May also sing Girl 1.)
THREE GIRLS, s, s, mz. Girl 2 or 3 may double Slave Woman.)
*TWO PREACHERS, t, t. (May also sing Followers 1 & 2.)
*ONLOOKER, bn. (May also sing Follower 3.)
*FISHMONGER, bs-bn. (May also sing Follower 4.)
JAMES and JOSES. Sons of Mary. Young, strong, severe.
A SQUAD OF POLICEMEN. …who disperse the crowd at Yeshua’s second sermon.
TWO EXECUTIONERS. Agents of Rome.
A SLAVE WOMAN Suspicious of Peter, at Yeshua’s execution.
ONLOOKERS …at YESHUA’s sermons and his crucifixion.
SATB. The audience.