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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.
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