The Marriage at Cana

La Dompna del Aquae - Andrew Jones
'La Dompna del Aquae' by Andrew Jones
The expectant Mary Magdalene arriving in
Provence, AD 44 View

The Marriage at Cana - 9th December 2001
London's Royal Opera House
Covent Garden London

Concert Introduction
by Laurence Gardner

Sixteen centuries ago, in the year 397, the bishops of the newly established Church of Rome met at the Council of Carthage in North Africa. Having previously burned the great Library of Alexandria to destroy the most important historical archive, their objective was to compile their own book of record. To this end, they studied a collection of early Gospels in order to choose 'four' to begin the Christian New Testament.

Finally, they settled on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which (with an amount of subsequent editing) are still familiar to us today. But what of those they did not select - those such as the Gospels of Thomas, of Philip, and of Mary Magdalene? Why were they excluded when the choices were made?

Fortunately, many of these original texts still exist, and they depict a much higher profile for women in Gospel-era society than we are generally led to believe - as teachers, priestesses, healers and missionaries. Paramount in this regard was Mary Magdalene, who is referred to as 'the woman who knew the All of Jesus'. She is portrayed as his beloved consort, his financial sponsor and the constant companion of his mother. In the Gospel of Philip, when asked why he loved Mary more than the male Apostles, Jesus answered, "Great is the mystery of marriage, for without it the world would not exist".

Historically, she was Sister Miriam the Magdal-eder (the Watchtower of the flock) - a Hasmonaean-born scarlet priestess of Dan. The later Troubadours of Provence (to where she voyaged and settled with her son in AD 44) called her the 'Lady of Light'. The Cathars of Languedoc revered her as the 'Great Lady of the Waters' - and the Knights Templars (who built the Gothic cathedrals of France in her honour) venerated Mary as the 'Grail of the World'. Yet, for all this reverence and veneration, the bishops (in their official denigration of women priests to create a male-dominated Church) condemned the Magdalene as a penitent whore! This image does not come from the Bible or from any authentic text, but from a strategic misuse of the old Teutonic word hore, meaning 'sacred woman'.

And so, from these primary Gospels and other ancient documents concerning Mary, Jesus and their Bloodline of the Holy Grail (the Sangréal), we are now pleased to relate the poignant story of the Magdal-eder and her mission of Female Liberty as she might herself have wished it to be told.

For the sheer musical romance of the language, the libretto is in Italian, but the English translations (and some background to the arias) are given in your programmes. Jaz Coleman and I trust, therefore, that you might now enjoy our new concert oratorio, The Marriage at Cana. Along with concertmaster Vasko Vassilev and The Soloists of the Royal Opera House, we have a special guest appearance by Abdullah Chhadeh on the kanoon - and in the role of Mary Magdalene we are privileged to hear the outstanding mezzo-soprano voice of Fiona Campbell.

Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones

'La Dompna del Aquae' by Andrew Jones Raised in New Zealand, Andrew studied illustration and graphic design at the Auckland Institute of Technology, graduating with honours in 1996. Winner of the Australian Opal Art Award, he has since exhibited in Auckland, Wellington, Melbourne, London and Paris. During the final year of his degree, Andrew began working with Jaz Coleman, then composer in residence for the Auckland Philharmonia, with works also recorded for RCA by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Jaz Coleman
Jaz Coleman

Jaz was subsequently responsible for having the New Zealand National Anthem translated from English into the Maori tongue - an event which caused six months of debate in the British and New Zealand Parliaments before it was approved. In England it was sung for the first time at the All Blacks' 1999 World Cup rugby match at Twickenham.

In the course of this, while Jaz was in London along with Andrew, who was studying Renaissance Art techniques with a Royal Academy master, they formed an alliance with Laurence Gardner. The result was the birth of the Bloodline of the Holy Grail oratorio, with it's world premiere performance at the London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

The Cathars , whose name meant Pure Ones as they believed their religious views were more "pure" than those of the Catholic church, were ideally situated for acquiring unorthodox beliefs.

The Languedoc, formerly known as Occitania, encompassed the Mediterranean coast west of Marseilles, the Black and Corbieres Mountains and the Pyrenees, which separated the area from Spain.
Chartres Cathedral France Originally, Chartres Cathedral (France) was a Romanesque church constructed in 1145. In 1194, all but the west front was destroyed by fire. Between 1205 and 1260, Chartres Cathedral was rebuilt on the foundation of the original church.
The reconstructed Chartres Cathedral was Gothic in style, displaying innovations that set the standard for thirteenth century architecture. Chartres Cathedral (France)
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