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Five good reasons to see 

The Gospel According to the Other Mary

The last premiere of the season is a very special work that you should definitely not miss. Why? We have summarized five good reasons for you here.

Conductor Nicole Paiement, costume designer Carmen Schabracq und director Lisenka Heijboer Castañón at the start of rehearsals
Conductor Nicole Paiement, costume designer Carmen Schabracq und director Lisenka Heijboer Castañón at the start of rehearsals

1. One of the most important composers of the 20th century

John Adam's opera Nixon in China from 1987 is one of the most famous musical theater works of the 20th century. It was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2011 and has since been recognized as a significant and lasting contribution to American opera. Over several decades, Adams has developed his own musical language, inspired by popular music, jazz and even electronic music. Elements of minimal music with its repetitions meet expressive, almost neo-romantic elements. His oratorio El Niño is currently causing a sensation at the Metropolitan Opera, with the “New York Times” reporting a triumphant atmosphere as the curtain fell on the premiere. His music theater works pose enormous challenges for everyone involved, and now you have the rare opportunity to experience one of John Adam's central works on stage with The Gospel According to the Other Mary!

2. An exciting new perspective on the Passion story

You might think you know the Passion story, but John Adams and Peter Sellars present it from an unusual, very contemporary perspective. The Gospel According to the Other Mary places biblical stories such as the resurrection of Lazarus and the Passion of Jesus in a contemporary, socially critical light. The story is told from the perspective of the women, who do not have a say in the Bible itself. The libretto interweaves texts from the Old and New Testaments with poems and texts by mostly female authors such as Louise Erdrich, the mystic Hildegard von Bingen, the Mexican poet Rosario Castellanos and the American journalist and activist Dorothy Day, to name just a few of the many poetic sources.

3. Outstanding, unconventional music

John Adams has repeatedly referenced Johann Sebastian Bach in his music, most directly in his oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary. But the work brings together many different worlds. The orchestral sounds are rich and dense, then clear again, barely audible. Clarinet solos sound like klezmer, the choirs like Christian musical traditions, as do the medieval harmonies. The cimbalom brings folkloristic elements into the music, a bass guitar sounds like the present. Together, this results in a score that has been described as perhaps the richest and most varied of John Adams' career.

4. A work for all those who love choral music and dance

John Adam's oratorio is a great challenge for the choir; the fascinating choral passages are a central part of the work. The choir of the Volksoper Wien, led by Roger Díaz-Cajamarca and Holger Kristen, is therefore an important element of the performance. Equally central to The Gospel According to the Other Mary is the dance, which brings the themes of the work to the stage with physicality and movement. The Venezuelan-born choreographer Miguel Alejandro Castillo always addresses larger questions of society in his work, and now he will create community on stage with a diverse dance ensemble. The work is therefore not only interesting for opera fans, but also for lovers of choral music and dance.

5. An exciting artistic team and ensemble

John Adam's work needs top-class soloists. Wallis Giunta as Mary and Jasmin White - a multi-award-winning member of our Opera Studio - as Martha, are at the head of an exciting ensemble. Jaye Simmons - acclaimed as Maria in West Side Story, among other roles - is another young voice from the Opera Studio. As Lazarus, you will hear Alok Kumar, who has worked at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera, among others. The countertenors Christopher Ainslie and Edu Rojas also contribute to John Adam's special musical world. Conductor Nicole Paiement is a specialist in contemporary music and the score is in the best of hands with her. The director is the young Dutch-Peruvian Lisenka Heijboer-Castañón, who is working at the Volksoper for the first time. You should not miss this ensemble and the artistic team.