Friday, June 21, 2013

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, San Francisco

My review is up at SFCV. The lede has the short version:
A fine quartet of leading singers and excellent musical leadership could not overcome a muddled and wordy libretto, inept staging, and a splashy, but ultimately unmemorable, score.
More later when I have time.

8 comments: said...

Argh. Nothing I've read encourages me, and for this I postponed going to (nerd alert!) my attendance at the IDRS (International Double Reed Society) convention?!

As a Christian I've been apprehensive in any case. My husband suggested I approach it as fiction. He's a John Muir admirer and I asked him how he'd feel if an opera about him portrayed him as a logger. ;-)

Okay, whine over ... I'll deal. I'm a big girl. Sort of.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I feel sure that the conference would be a better use of your time!

I can see that this opera could present some issues for a Christian. At a press event 10 days ago, I heard that the Roman Catholic archdiocese of SF had initially been receptive to having an opera-related event at one of the Catholic churches in town, then they backed out. Grace Cathedral hosted several events and was quite welcoming.

I have been reading Elaine Pagels's The Gnostic Gospels and it is fascinating; an introduction to the scholarship, written for nonscholars. said...

Yeah, it won't be an easy listen for several reasons, from all I've read. Such is life. It's too late to change things now. Who knows, maybe the challenge will be good for me.

Yep, I'm grasping at straws here.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I will be interested to hear your take on it. said...

It's intermission. I'm crying ... I'm dying ... he's trying to rhyme. Here's hoping I'm coping and last the whole time. said...

Btw, it's interesting to read Mr. Adamo's criticisms of someone else's libretto. (

Having not heard the word (yeah, really) I can't comment on what he says.

I'm always surprised by composers and their willingness to "diss" other composers. I did see, though, that his negative blog entry about John Adams has been disappeared. That was one that really surprised me ... IIRC it was about Doctor Atomic.

As you probably know, I don't like to comment negatively on things, so I sort of (just a little) regret my silly little poem. At the same time, I think that I understand the importance of a good librettist even more now.

That being said, there were some lovely moments ... some of the orchestration was quite beautiful. And then there were some Sondheim references. Deliberate? (I'm thinking especially of the "Tell me" section ... so remembering something from "Sunday in the Park with George".

I'm curious to talk to some colleagues of mine. It seems like the sort of opera that is fun to play. But I could be wrong ... happens a lot! :-)

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, wow - the Wayback Machine can't retrieve that blog posting, but I remember it well. I may have email from Mark about why he decided to take it down, but yeah, he decided it was better not to criticize the Dr. Atomic libretto in public.

Haha, re your little poem. It's funny. I wish the libretto were better. I've been listening to Nixon in China for the last week or so, and you know, it is a very odd libretto but SO GOOD and the music is SO GREAT. said...

Yes to Nixon in China. :-)

I'm too tired to write more. A double reed convention is rather tiring.