Mary and Gabriel chancel opera

Children's and Liturgical Opera Company, LLC
a chancel opera based on the Annunciation story
by Susan Hulsman Bingham
(l. to r.) Margaret Youngberg, soprano, as Gabriel; Martha Bennett Oneppo,
soprano, as Mary, and Savana Vagueiro da Fonseca, Waryn Hackley,
Monique Haynes, Norrisa Haynes, and McAllister Windom,
sopranos, as Gabriel's Backups.


MARY (soprano), GABRIEL (soprano or treble)


piano or organ with flute, tambourine


GABRIEL'S BACKUPS (angel chorus): trebles: may be in costume or not.




Biblical dress for Mary and Gabriel; lily. Angel costumes for angels optional.


Four Gospels of the New Testament; libretto by
Susan Hulsman Bingham




tonal, melodic, traditionally harmonic but gently experimental. Short aria, recitative sections, two trios. Parts of this libretto are funny.




8-10 minutes


Trinity Church on the Green, New Haven, CT, 1974

Click here to hear the entire piece (about 8 minutes)


"A simple but effective dramatization ideally suited for performance in either a service of worship or a concert. Best suited for presentation in a cathedral or church."
Carl Gerbrandt,
Sacred Musical Drama, a Producer's Guide

"[A CONVERSATION], done in a way that is completely devoid of its customary solemn, religious tone . . . is suitable for children. (The music is) shaped attractively, and the use of the children's choir, which accompanies the acts of the Angel Gabriel, is charming. Newspaper review, Sindelfingen, Germany

"As these choral sermons conclude, congregations and audiences must be smiling broadly and rejoicing with the angels . . ."
Patricia Nakamura, THE LIVING CHURCH



(It's short, so we printed the whole thing here.)

MARY: How strange I feel -- all uneasy and full of joy. What's this sense of expectation? Let me sit down. Let me rest and enjoy this oddest season of my heart.


GABRIEL: Mary. Mary: hello.


MARY: Yes?


GABRIEL: Hello, Mary. Can you hear me?


MARY: Hear you? Yes! -- And are you an angel? I've always wanted to see an angel.


GABRIEL: Well, if you want to call me an angel . . People who see me usually call me an angel. But listen now: hear my message which I bring from the Lord!


MARY: I'm listening now. Can't you see how I'm bursting to hear what the Lord says?


GABRIEL: Mary, He says you’re very special among women. He'd like to bestow a favor upon you. You've been chosen to be the mother of his child! You'll bear the child from in your womb. Please think upon this now. The blessing will not always be easy. Our Lord wanted me to tell you himself. This child will be very special and will unwittingly cause you pain.


MARY: You see, I'm not ready. I'm too young and not yet married. What if Joseph should find out? He'd be angry and think I'm making up a tale. Don't make me hurt him before we're even married!


GABRIEL’S BACKUPS: Hello lovely Mary! You are so sweet and so beloved of the Lord that He chose you to be the special mother of his only Son, our Savior, our Lord, our very own!


GABRIEL: I hear you, sweet Lady. You're very young and not yet married. But as for Joseph, he'll find out! He won't be angry, but just bewildered for awhile. Not such a high price to pay for such an honor.


GABRIEL’S BACKUPS: It’s very good to talk things over with the Lord. He always wants to hear. To be sure, He hears! Just open your heart to Him.


MARY: Dear Angel, I mean it. I need time to think this over. But if you depart right now, I'll be lost, and I'll probably lose my nerve. Please stay here with me for awhile until I know my mind.


GABRIEL’S BACKUPS: Speak out! Speak up! Come, lovely Lady! All you have to do is simply continue being just what you have been all along. Nothing to change. Simply stay as pure and lovely as you are!


MARY: Joseph! Joseph! What is happening to me? Everything has changed! I feel alone and cold inside. Joseph! Joseph! Please come and sit with me now! Tell me what to do. Should I pray and wait in peace? Joseph, why don't you come here? Something is happening to me! Everything is new! Behold, I am the handmaid of God. Let it be according to your word!


ALL ANGELS: God will be happy, very happy and glad. Oh yes now! Jesus will be born! Tra la la (etc.)!


Composer's comment: This is our first opera, and it is in constant demand. It can be performed entirely by children; strong child soloists can handle the Mary and Gabriel roles. Since it is only ten minutes long, this piece fits just about anywhere in the service -- as sermon or anthem. SHB

Premier of A CONVERSATION at Trinity Church on the Green,
New Haven, CT, 1974 with Susan Bingham, mezzo soprano, as Gabriel,
and Judith Caldwell, soprano, as Mary.
Frances Choi, soprano, (Gabriel) and Martha Bennett Oneppo, soprano,
(Mary) performing at Hirsau, Germany, February 2001

Musical score: $20. Price includes shipping and handling within the U.S, as well as performance rights and permission to make as many copies of the score as needed for one group's performances in one season.


PDF file of A CONVERSATION: $10.
Same rights apply as with hard copy of score.

CD of four chancel operas (LEARNING TO PRAY, THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC, RUTH, and A CONVERSATION BETWEEN MARY AND THE ANGEL GABRIEL): $20. Includes shipping within the U.S.


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