Grand Opera Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth makes his operatic debut.

By Damian Fowler

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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