Mary of Egypt

Mary of Egypt was the prostitute-saint of Alexandria. Zossima was the extreme proud ascetic holy man.   Both hear a voice telling them to renounce everything and go into the desert.   Their meeting brings about a transformation in each of them.   Zossima basically is transfigured by the effugence of the eternal feminine that he sees in Mary, and Mary is transfigured by his holiness.   At the central climax of the opera they sing a mystical love duet.   Musically Zossima’s whole sound world becomes like Mary’s.   In her he sees love and his own limitations.  In Mary of Egypt I was able to combine the concept of the Uncreated Eros that I talked about with Phiip Sherrard and also the child-like simplicity of coptic icons that the text by Mother Thekla suggested.