The Blog

The Gospel According to the Other Mary: The Best of Talent in Music, Opera and Dance

The Gospel According to the Other Mary, being the other Mary the composer's mother and other social activist women, composed by John Adams and currently at the English National Opera until the 5th of December, is without doubt the masterpiece of the 21st century. Premiered in concert in 2013, it received a string of superlatives when reviewed, but nothing gets you ready to the immense experience of what the best of talent, second to none, can offer you. As John Berry, ENO artistic director, says:

"Nothing prepared me for the overwhelming dramatic intensity of the music and the profoundly moving storytelling."

Courtesy Richard HubertSmith, the photographer, and ENO

John Adams, one of the leading contemporary music and opera composers, creates humanist and visually stunning pieces that perfectly resonates in an era of discontent and widening social inequality. A highly respected and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his 9/11 Memorial piece, Adams concentrates on what it matters with a strong minimalist approach. The baggages are dumped and he is ready to take you for the journey of your life.

Libretto by Peter Sellars after Old and New Testament sources, intertwined with the voices of four extraordinary women: a Native American woman, a Black American woman, a socialist Catholic woman and a Mexican woman all contribute to a rich and dense text rooted in contemporary history. Sellars, a visionary artist, is one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the performing arts in the world. Sellars described the work as an attempt to "set the Passion story in the eternal present, in the tradition of sacred art", and so the narrative continuously attempts to combine the Biblical past with themes and references that remain relevant to a contemporary audience - such a drug addict going cold turkey. The story unfolds from the point of view of Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha and their brother Lazarus.

Courtesy Richard HubertSmith, the photographer, and ENO

Mezzo-soprano, Patricia Bardon, plays the main character of Mary Magdalene with vulnerability, determination and skilful acceptance of the events that unravels such as her brother Lazarus death and resurrection and Jesus crucifixion. Bardon gives a superb performance with ease. A talented star with no ego. Meredith Arwady, contralto, sings with a beautiful and exquisite voice her dilemmas in understanding her sister Mary Magadalene's destiny. Russell Thomas, a tenor playing Lazarus, their brother, is sublime. His voice makes time stop and takes us to a new dimension. One of the undisputed stars of the show is the flex dancer Banks. A visual orgasm. Guaranteed. Banks blends with the music as if it was composed for him. Unexpected, because flex dance is primarily associated with hip hop music. A refreshing surprise in a more classical setting. Finally, Seraphim, a type of celestial being, played by the counter-tenors: Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings and Nathan Medley, adds a layer of storytelling with such airy voices. Conductor Joana Carneiro, currently Principal Conductor of Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguesa, makes a great debut.

One of the best and most accessible operas ever. Highly recommended.

The Gospel According To The Other Mary opens at the London Coliseum on 21 November 2014 for 6 performances - 21, 25, 27 November and 3, 5 December at 7.30pm and 29 November, 6.30pm. For more information, please visit website: