Massenet's 1873 opera, Marie-Magdeleine, celebrates the pin-up girl (and fallen woman) who was the first witness to the Resurrection. Today, Easter Sunday, is indeed her special day.
Marie-Magdeleine was a hit show, even in the US. (The tunes are excellent: listen here.) But after the First World War, for most of the 20th century, this lovely opera was forgotten. Musical entertainment based on the gospel, huge at one time, went into decline.
Massenet's OTHER opera about a fallen woman, Manon, is more well-known, and ends with a prostitute’s tragic death. Marie-Magdeleine brings better news: Christianity's most famous prostitute, very much alive, announcing the Resurrection.
"J’ai eu envie de jouer avec le concept du tourisme et des vacances qui sont rares chez les travailleuses sexuelles. Les prostituées n’ont que peu de vacances et du coup quand elles en prennent, celles-ci ont une autre ampleur. C’est une manière de dire qu’elle prend également des vacances dans sa tête. Cela révèle des pensées féminines. Le personnage principal Nancy est une call girl qui n’a jamais quitté jamais New-York car elle est très attachée à cette ville. Elle n’a absolument aucune idée de ce qu’elle va vivre. Le roman est aussi un combat sur l’engagement de chacun et sur les questions que pose la prostitution. J’ai été inspirée en me disant que Tintin serait réincarné en prostituée ce qui est une situation complètement absurde." - Men's Health
Saturday, November 14, 2009 MM Relics: Welcome Service tonight at 7:30, St Thomas Aquinas, 249 Ninth Street, Brooklyn
Mary Magdalen will be in Park Slope for the next 24 hours or so. From the Diocese website:
"At St. Thomas Aquinas, a welcoming Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by an all-night prayer vigil. On the following day, the relics will be present as the parish completes the celebration of its 125th anniversary. There will be a 9 a.m. Mass in English, and an 11 a.m. procession with the relics. At noon, Msgr. Steven Ferrari, Vicar for Brooklyn, will celebrate a bi-lingual Mass."
Thursday, November 12, 2009 The Weekend: Mary Magdalene in Brooklyn Friday, Nov. 13 - Sat 11/14
Fri-Sat Schedule: I got a phone call this morning from a lady at St. James Cathedral who told me to get a pen because time was short. She confirmed the events and said, "We will only have possession of the relics until 7:00 pm on Saturday." I think that could mean 6:30 in real time.
The relic will arrive on Friday in the afternoon. (Coming from Huntington Seminary with Father Romaric who has replaced Fr Michelet, the priest I met at St Vincent Ferrer.)
A short service will begin at 5 pm and the relics will be available for veneration until 10 pm. On Saturday, veneration begins at 9 am, followed by a mass at noon. Afternoon is for general public veneration. The Cathedral events sound quiet and dignified. The monsignor told me there are no plans for a procession.
RELIQUARY DIARY: October 22. Entering St. Michael Catholic Church in Gainesville, GA. A video of Father Michelet and slideshow. Close-up images, including the procession. Change of pace to see a smaller gathering and to hear Father Michelet's extremely persuasive, comforting voice. You can download this short video and see how the relic is handled or managed as she exits the van. The sound of birds in the background is very soothing.
BEAST: Mary Magdalene is visiting the New York area until November 17. A relic of Mary Magdalene, patron saint of fallen women, the Dominican Order and Provence, is touring the US for the first time. My latest column in The Daily Beast explores the implications for the Church, as well as my personal and political relationship with this unique, multifaceted saint.
VIDEO: A wonderful video from Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, where she stopped before her return to NYC.
UPDATE: She will be venerated this Friday Nov. 13 and Saturday Nov. 14 at St James Cathedral, Brooklyn. Friday evening from 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm with a short service at 5:00. Saturday all day from 9:00 am til 7:00 pm. Be there or be square.
UPDATE: The image of the Magdalene on the St Thomas Aquinas site is gorgeous! This is definitely the pre-conversion Magdalene. Sunday @ 11 am: Procession with the Relics followed by 12 noon Bilingual Mass For more info: 718-768-9471
DIARY: Just spoke to Father Joseph at Most Precious Blood church in Bath Beach, Brooklyn. He says 1000 people came to venerate the Magdalen relic today. The relic arrived at 10:30 am and there was a mass at 11 am, followed by private veneration from 2-3pm, and Holy Hour from 3-4pm.
Thursday 11/12: Relics of St. Mary Magdalene will be @ Seminary of the IC, Huntington, NY all day
"Relics of St. Mary Magdalene have been venerated in the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon, France since the second century. One of these relics, a piece of the tibia, can be venerated in the Main Chapel of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington."