San Francisco Opera Debuts Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene
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The last date listed for The Gospel of Mary Magdalene was Friday July 5, 2013 / 8:00pm.
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I'm an occasional opera patron and no scholar of the biblical stories. I will say that I enjoyed this opera experience even in the balcony. There was only one aria Mary sang that I might want to listen to over and over in my car though her voice was full and round and clear and beautiful. The libretto seemed a little dull and pedantic - nothing really touched me in a poetic way or soared emotionally that I noticed musically. But still I liked it. It was so personal. The acting by the leads, even with close ups on big screen, was so believable - kissing and all. It was sensual and resonant. Earlier during the week I had caught a snippet on NPR about the discovery that the scripture that says, "Be ye perfect" before it was translated was actually, "Be ye wholehearted" which meant acceptance and inclusion of humanity rather than selective of just the "good" parts. There is a healing energy when we can be with our more truthful presence. I felt this while "being with" the Mary and Jesus and Peter performances. Great acting, human, merely being, speaks volumes.
She has long been condemned as a harlot, or dismissed as a minor player in a well-known sacred narrative, but ancient manuscripts discovered in recent decades tell a very different story, giving us a striking new viewpoint on Jesus' message to humanity. Mary Magdalene is placed at the center of the story in this world premiere by Mark Adamo, a "brilliant theater composer" (New Yorker) whose Little Women is the most frequently performed new opera of the past 20 years. Kevin Newbury, lauded for his "imagination and emotional nuance" (The New York Times), directs a resplendent cast that includes Sasha Cooke, William Burden and Maria Kanyova. Nathan Gunn, who possesses "a voice of stunning authority" (The New York Times), sings the role of Yeshua. Michael Christie, in his San Francisco Opera debut, conducts.
"No Gospel was written as history. But every gospel—not only those included in the New Testament—contains fragments of the history of Jesus of Nazareth and of those who followed him. In 2007 I wondered: Could you develop from those fragments a credibly human original version of the story that we know only through its later, magical embellishments? In such a new New Testament, might its women characters speak as eloquently as its men? (The Gnostic Gospels suggest as much.) And might such a story gain, rather than lose, nobility, breadth, passion, nerve, if—instead of the usual saints, angels, and sinners—it centered on human beings making momentous decisions guided only by painful experience, moral intuition, and the light they have to see by? The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is my answer." —Mark Adamo, composer
Sung in English with English supertitles.
Approximate running time: 2 hours, 50 minutes including one intermission.
Pre-Opera Talks are free to ticketholders and take place in the main theater, in the Orchestra section, 55 minutes prior to curtain.
Post-performance discussions with Professor Kayleen Asbo are free to ticketholders and take place immediately following each performance.
About the Ticket Supplier: San Francisco OperaSan Francisco Opera is the second largest opera company in North America. Gaetano Merola and Kurt Herbert Adler were the Company's first two general directors. Merola led the Company from its founding in 1923 until his death in 1953; Adler was in charge from 1953 through 1981. Legendary for both their conducting and managerial skills, the two leaders established a formidable institution that is internationally recognized as one of the top opera companies in the world--heralded for its first-rate productions and roster of international opera stars. Following Adler's tenure, the Company was headed by three visionary leaders: Terence A. McEwen (1982-1988), Lotfi Mansouri (1988-2001), and Pamela Rosenberg (2001-2005). Originally presented over two weeks, the Company's season now contains approximately seventy-five performances of ten operas between September and July. San Francisco Opera recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of its performing home, the War Memorial Opera House. The venerable beaux arts building was inaugurated on October 15, 1932 and holds the distinction of being the first American opera house that was not built by and for a small group of wealthy patrons; the funding came thanks to a group of private citizens who encouraged thousands of San Franciscans to subscribe. The War Memorial currently welcomes some 500,000 patrons annually.
David Gockley became San Francisco Opera's sixth general director in January of 2006 after more than three decades at the helm of Houston Grand Opera. During his first months as general director, Gockley took opera to the center of the community with a free outdoor simulcast--the first in the Company's history--of Puccini's Madama Butterfly in May 2006. Subsequent simulcasts included Rigoletto in October 2006, reaching 15,000 people in San Francisco and Stanford University's Frost Amphitheater; Don Giovanni in June 2007, which was broadcast to 7,000 people in four theaters across Northern California; and Samson and Delilah for an audience of 15,000 at AT&T Park in September 2007. In 2007, Gockley led San Francisco Opera to take these innovations even further and created the Koret-Taube Media Suite. The first permanent high-definition broadcast-standard video production facility installed in any American opera house, the Koret-Taube Media Suite gives the Company the permanent capability to produce simulcasts and other projects including OperaVision, where retractable screens provide full stage, close-up, and mid-range ensemble shots in high-definition video for patrons in balcony seats. Gockley ushered in another first for San Francisco Opera in December 2007 when the Company announced an agreement for distribution of six operas per year to movie theaters across the globe. This agreement with The Bigger Picture, a subsidiary of Access Integrated Technologies, Inc., marks the first time that any opera company will utilize the feature film quality digital cinema format and underscores how the era of digital cinema is transforming how and where great entertainment reaches new audiences.
Gockley's partner in artistic programming and musical issues is Music Director and Principal Conductor Donald Runnicles, appointed in 1992. During his tenure, Runnicles has championed new repertory ranging from the world premieres of John Adams's Doctor Atomic (2005) to Conrad Susa's The Dangerous Liaisons (1994), in addition to the spectacular American stage premiere of Olivier Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise (2002) and the West Coast premiere of Stewart Wallace's Harvey Milk (1996). After seventeen years with the San Francisco Opera, Maestro Runnicles will step down as music director in the summer of 2009. He will continue his relationship with the Company, conducting a new production of Peter Grimes and the "American" Ring Cycle, which continues into the 2010-11 season. Nicola Luisotti, a rising star in the opera world, will succeed Donald Runnicles as music director in the fall of 2009.
San Francisco Opera offers a comprehensive array of acclaimed training programs and performance opportunities for young artists under the auspices of the San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program (each a separate institution). Both are led by renowned soprano Sheri Greenawald.