Magdalene, a chancel opera Children's and Liturgical Opera Company, LLC
www.chancelopera.com
 

LITURGICAL OPERA: Magdalene

 
MAGDALENE

a chancel opera about Jesus's Close Disciple
by Susan Hulsman Bingham

 

 
Correggio, Noli Me Tangere"(1522-3)
 

VOICES:  

Soprano (3), mezzo soprano (4), tenor (4), baritone (2).

CAST:
  Seven Unclean Spirits (sopranos/mezzo sopranos); Magdalene (soprano), Mary of Bethany (soprano), Angel (treble or soprano), Martha (soprano), Joanna (mezzo soprano), Mary, mother of James (mezzo soprano), Female Pharisee (mezzo soprano), Jesus (tenor), Simon/Criminal #2 (tenor), Andrew (tenor), John the Beloved Disciple (low tenor), Judas/Criminal #1 (baritone), Matthew (baritone).
NOTE: Parts may be double-cast. Members of the Pharisee/Men group may double as Judas Iscariot, Simon, First or Second Criminal, Angel, Centurion, Andrew, Peter and Matthew parts. The Seven Unclean Spirits only appear at the beginning, so womens' parts may be double-cast as well.

ACCOMPANIMENT:  

piano

CHORUS:  

none

DANCE:  

none but some miming optional

PROPS:  

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

LANGUAGE:  

English

MUSICAL STYLE:  

tonal, impressionistic

SCENES:  

six

DURATION:  

twenty-five minutes

PREMIER:  

This piece has not been performed  

SYNOPSIS
 
Scene 1

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.

 
Scene 2

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.

 
Scene 3

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.

 
Scene 4

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.

 
Scene 5

Jesus is crucified. Mary Magdalene assures her stricken friends that his promises are true.

 
Scene 6

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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