LITURGICAL OPERA: Magdalene
a chancel opera about
Jesus's Close Disciple
by Susan Hulsman Bingham
Soprano (3), mezzo soprano (4), tenor (4), baritone (2).
none but some miming optional
minimal Biblical garb. Details in score.
SOURCE OF TEXTS:
Psalms, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Zechariah, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Gospels, Revelations, Romans, Ephesians, Pistis Sophia, Gospel of Peter
This piece has not been performed
Mary Magdalene is purged by Jesus of seven demons. A crowd gathers around a woman caught in the act of adultery. Jesus prevents a stoning. Mary Magdalene sings a hymn of thanks to Jesus. The hymn becomes a duet.
Mary Magdalene complains to Jesus that his male disciples do not approve of her and that she is uncomfortable in their presence because of this.
Mary Magdalene annoints Jesus with oil while the other guests mumble about the high cost of the ointment. Jesus gives them a morality lesson and tells Magdalene that her faith has healed her.
Men and women disciples argue about whom Jesus loves more. Magdalene calms them with an aria about her own old habit of loving jealously, and how Jesus has changed that.
Jesus is crucified. Mary Magdalene assures her stricken friends that his promises are true.
Women go to Jesus' tomb. Jesus appears to Magdalene. She tells the other disciples, who challenge her honesty. Hurt but steadfast, she continues reassuring them. Jesus appears in their midst.
Musical score: $58. Price includes shipping and handling within the U.S. Price also includes performing rights and permission to make sufficient copies for cast and accompanists for one group or company for one season.
Musical score in downloadable PDF format: $30.
Composer's comment: We have never performed this one, as churches are loath to use non-canonical texts. Those interested in feminist issues and in the life of Mary Magdalene will find this a sympathetic and nuanced portrayal of her. The piece also illustrates Jesus's friendship with Magdalene as presented in the Gnostic Gospels. I like this piece. If you do it, let us know all about it. SHB
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