Backstage at San Francisco Opera > May 2013 > Magdalene and Massenet
Magdalene and Massenet

Mark Adamo's new work is not the first theatrical production which has envisioned a powerful love duet between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.  Jules Massenet (best known for Manon and Thais) first came to prominence with his oratorio Marie Magdeleine, which views the last three days of Jesus's life from her perspective.

It was considered controversial in its time for the intimacy that was implied between the two lead characters. An early fan of the oratorio was none other than Peter Tchaikovsky, who waxed eloquent in his appreciation in a letter to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck :
"In the evening I studied a work by Massenet which was new to me: Marie-Magdeleine. I opened the score with a certain apprehension. It seemed to me far too audacious an idea to have Christ singing arias and duets, but, as it turned out, this work is full of excellent qualities, gracefulness, and charm. The duet between Jesus and Mary Magdalene touched me to the quick and even caused me to shed tears. Praise to the artist who gives one such moments! From now on Massenet will be one of my favourites"

Sculpture by Donatello of Mary Magdalene cica 1457
located in the Duomo Museum, Florence, Italy
To learn more about the many different faces of Mary Magdalene and hear a free lecture introducing her symbols by cultural historian and mythologist Professor Kayleen Asbo, go  to

Posted: 5/23/2013 5:41:58 PM by Kayleen Asbo
Filed under: 2012-13Season, TheGospelOfMaryMagdalene


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