Only a few of the ancillary events arranged in preparation for Mark Adamo’s new opera, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, remain; and the world premiere by the San Francisco Opera (SFO) is scheduled for June 19. This production was commissioned by SFO and will star mezzo Sasha Cooke, making her SFO debut in the title role, and baritone Nathan Gunn as Yeshua (Jesus). The full cast is a large one (25 solo roles); but the other major parts will be Miriam (Mary, mother of Jesus), sung by soprano Maria Kanyova, and the apostle Peter (tenor William Burden). The production will be staged by Kevin Newbury, with set design by David Korins; and Michael Christie will make his debut conducting the SFO Orchestra.
As has already been observed, Adamo wrote his own libretto for this opera. That text (sung in English with English supertitles) was the product of six years of research by the composer. Adamo’s investigations led him to both ancient texts and modern biblical scholarship. The result is not so much sacred text (as one encounters in, for example, the settings of the Passion texts by Johann Sebastian Bach) and more in the genre sometimes called “alternate history.” The focus is on the human nature of several of the leading characters encountered in the New Testament, with a particular focus on both religious and sexual politics.
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene will receive a total of seven performances in the War Memorial Opera House, located at 301 Van Ness Avenue, at the northwest corner of Grove Street. Those performances are scheduled for June 19 (7:30 p.m.), June 22 (8 p.m.), June 25 (8 p.m.), June 28 (8 p.m.), July 2 (7:30 p.m.), July 5 (8 p.m.), and July 7 (2 p.m.). Tickets for these performances are priced from $22 to $340 and may be purchased through the event page for this production. They may also be purchased at the San Francisco Opera Box Office (in the lobby of the War Memorial Opera House) or by calling 415-864-3330. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. It is open for telephone orders only on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition Standing Room tickets are available at the Box Office for $10, cash only, going on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance.