San Francisco Opera’s latest production “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene” premieres next week. The opera takes on the controversial relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, using biblical texts and ancient Gnostic texts found in Egypt in 1948 that challenge the view of Mary as a woman of ill repute. We talk with the composer and librettist as well as the opera’s director about the new production and the mythology of Mary Magdalene.

Kevin Newbury, director of "The Gospel of Mary Magdalene"
Mark Adamo, composer and librettist of "The Gospel of Mary Magdalene"

  • Torremolinos

    It’s the Da Vinci code with music.

    How about providing a musical that deals with a real controversy instead, like the 18 years Jesus was missing and rumored to be in India, or the fact that so many aspects of his mythical life so conveniently match those of Lord Krishna, or how about the rumors that he didn’t die on the cross at all but had a follower named Simon take his place while he escaped to Kashmir.

    This whole Jesus story is so full of holes, no wonder they call him holy.

    • baronsabato

      Huh? Have you ever read any actual credible Biblical scholarship done by actual Biblical scholars? All those things you just listed are as likely as the Da Vinci Code (maybe even less!).

      • Torremolinos

        The way faith works is, they get you to believe X (usually without a shred of evidence) and then tell you that believing anything else is wrong, bad, crazy, unfounded, or a waste of time. That seems to be your approach.

        Alternate views of Jesus are just as valid if not more than the mainstream views about him, because they often are based on evidence written by his contemporaries, whereas the New Testament is not.

        • JimmyOo

          and your research has consisted of …?

          • Torremolinos

            Many people have looked into this.

            Example: Dr Robert Beckford, a theologian i.e. a person whose job it is to research the truth about religion rather than the hype that you receive in houses of worship, has been vocal about Jesus’s actual origins.

            A documentary by him:

            Also here is Jesus in India:

  • nutrod42

    Forum covers many interesting topics. This is not one of them.

  • Kayleen Asbo

    Whether you hold the story of Christianity as literal fact or mythic poetry, it is a story which has shaped (for better and worse) our world and given birth to some of the most moving and extraordinary works of art, music and drama in human history.Mary Magdalene has been a screen on which both individuals and entire cultures have projected their deepest fears, hopes and longings. This is as true in our own time (with the enormous collective hope in many circles that Mary and Jesus had both a spiritual AND a sexual union) as it was in the 6th century when she became re-imagined as a reformed prostitute. The portrait we get of her from the twelve references found in the Canonical Gospels are slender threads indeed, though remarkably consistent: a faithful and courageous disciple present at the two most important events within Christianity (the crucifixion and resurrection) whose loyalty and devotion stands in stark contrast to the other male disciples, who flee in fear and in the case of Peter, even deny Jesus. This Biblical picture of Mary Magdalene is absolutely consistent , though greatly amplified in the Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Thomas, Pistis Sophia and Dialogue with the Savior- stories in which she emerges as the loyal disciple who best understands Jesus’s message. What most excites me about Mark Adamo’s opera is not that there are love scenes between the two lead characters, but that we have Mary Magdalene center stage as a figure of wisdom, strength and courage when she has so often (in films like The Passion of Christ or The Last Temptation or even in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar)been portrayed as a confused victim. This is so much more in alignment with the earliest historical texts.

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