Last week, Jesus was resurrected with the highly expected world premiere of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, written and composed by Mark Adamo. Under David Gockley, SF Opera's commissions often tackles ambitious material with a wiff of controversy. This one centers on Mary Magdalene, who was or wasn't Jesus' wife, depending on whom you ask. We kept waiting for some religion nuts to start waging some holy war and marching on the War Memorial Opera House, but apparently, Mark Adamo did enough scholarly research to present a story that is accurately drawn from both the Gnostic and Canonical Gospels and seems unimpeachable. Natahn Gunn will star as Him, with His shirt off, as He intended. Sasha Cooke will be the other Mary.
Adamo has been one of the most successful opera composers of the time. His Little Women has become one of the most staged contemporary American operas, and we did thoroughly enjoy it in a recent performance at the conservatory. Even though Adamo lives in New-York, he married fellow composer John Corigliano here in California before Prop 8 in 2008. We talked with the very voluble composer over the phone about writing Mary Magdalene, the text, the music and how he came to know her from the inside.