Grand Opera Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth makes his operatic debut.

By Damian Fowler

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The Bridgeman Art Library

When Jesus appears in the first act of Mark Adamo’s new opera, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, he’s described in the libretto’s stage directions as a “gaunt young lion of a
man, thirty but seeming younger.” Thrust into the heart of the drama, Yeshua — he sports the Hebrew version of his name — is called on to pass judgment on a woman accused of adultery. In Adamo’s conceit, which conflates different biblical characters for dramatic purposes, the woman is Mary Magdalene. During this first encounter, Yeshua and Mary make a powerful connection that stirs them body and soul, sparking the drama so characteristic of a man and a woman in grand opera. But what’s remarkable is that this...

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