This opera tells the story of St Mary of Egypt, once a prostitute in Alexandria, who went into the desert for spiritual contemplation and met Zossima, a holy man. Mary’s love was love misdirected, and although her door was wide open, Zossima's was closing around him with pride: even though he 'understood all the mysteries', he did not understand why his good deeds and virtues had not brought him peace. His arrogance meant he failed to find the one thing he needed - the supreme mystery, the humility essential for love. In the arid desert, Mary and Zossima find in each other a kind of spiritual ecstasy.
The simplicity of the music is in stark contrast with the theology of the desert fathers in all it's searing compassion. Staged in the iconic King's College Chapel, this production presents a rare opportunity to see an opera in the city's largest natural theatre as well as being the UK premiere of the chamber scoring. The performances will be part of the 70th birthday year celebrations, and also close to the first anniversary of the composer's death.