Friday, July 30, 2021

My Favorite Musical: Jesus Christ Superstar

I love musicals!  But it took less than a nanosecond to decide which is my favorite:
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar. 
It's a musical, an album, and a movie.
Technically it is a rock opera because there are no spoken lines in the original version.  Washington Post  
The music is phenomenal, and it really speaks to me.

The story is loosely based on the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)
and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's Life of Christ,
which compares and calibrates all four Gospels.  Wikipedia
The dramatization covers  the last week of Christ's life
from his entry into Jerusalem to his crucifixion.
 
Its power and heart comes from its focus
on the relationships among Jesus, Judas and Mary Magdalene.

The Crucifix by Brunelleschi (1410-1415)
Gondi Chapel of Santa Maria Novella
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


The album was released in 1970, before the musical
because the producers couldn't get financial backing for the production.
Originally banned by the BBC as sacrilegious,
the album went on to sell over seven million worldwide by 1983.

Album Cover for the 1970American Release
of Jesus Christ Superstar


The musical was popular on Broadway, in London's West End Theatre,
and numerous stage productions around the world,
including the one I saw at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia in 1971-72.
The musical had grossed more than $237 million worldwide by 1980,
and it held the record for the longest-running musical
at West End before it was passed by Cats in 1989.  Wikipedia


Premiere Evening in the Warehouse on the RDM Site
Netherlands, September 15, 2012


The BBC wasn't the only entity that considered Jesus Christ Superstar controversial.
Christians protested the suggestion that Jesus
and Mary Magdalene had a physical relationship
and that Judas was the center of the drama instead of Christ.
Jews worried that the scheming of Caiaphas and Herod
would revive the blaming of Jews for Christ's crucification.

I remember a frisson of insubordination as the curtain rose in University Hall.
After all, I came of age during the 1960s and was well-practiced in protest.
The musical featured Jesus as a revolutionary fighting against the establishment,
a theme that resonated with me and others of my generation.

I could relate to the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
Mary Magdalene's confusion and heartache,
and the tortured mind and heart of Judas who loved yet betrayed Jesus.

Who could listen to "Damned for All Time" (Judas),
"I Don't Know How to Love Him" (Mary Magdalene),
"Gethsemane, I Only Want To Say" (Jesus), 
or "Everything's Alright" (Judas, Mary, and Jesus) and ever forget them?
Certainly not me!

I felt a powerful connection to Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Judas 
as living people who questioned, doubted, and struggled as they must have in life.
Just as I have and do.
 
For the art connected to a favorite musical I combed through my photos of Italy.
I have feasted on glorious Christian art in magnificent churches
and museums in Venice, Padua, Siena, and Florence.
The richness, beauty, and vibrancy of Medieval and Renaissance art inspired by
Christian faith and passion is unparalleled for its abundance and splendor in Italy.

It's ridiculous to choose a few photos to share, but here goes,
starting with the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. 

The Breathtaking Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (left)
Giotto's Bell Tower (middle), and the Baptistery of St. John (right)
September 17, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



The climb to the top of the Florence Cathedral's dome is not for everyone.
It consists of 463 small, narrow, and steep steps, 
and leads to magnificent views of Florence and the surrounding area.
At the start of Brunelleschi's dome, you can step out onto the Listening Gallery
to see Giorgio Vasari’s fresco of the Last Judgment.
If you are not faint of heart, you can look down 130 feet to the transept.
The designs in the marble floor of the transept create an illusion of dropping down.


Looking Down the Nave Toward the Portale Maggiore
 (Major Portal or Entry) from 130 feet up
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
September 21, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved






A Portion of Vasari‘s Fresco, The Last Judgment (1572-79), Depicting Hell
 It is located beneath the dome of the Florence Cathedral.
September 21, 2018
Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, just east of the cathedral, contains 
a lovely polychromic terracotta of Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Bandini.

Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Bandini ca. 1565
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
September 21, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



The Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence contains
perhaps my favorite Madonna and Child.
The painting is the central panel in the Carrand Triptych by Giovanni di Francesco.

The Bargello, formerly a Barracks and Prison
Now Museo Nazionale del Bargello
September 19, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved





The Carrand Triptych by Giovanni di Francesco
Virgin and Child with SS Francis, John the Baptist, Nicholas and Peter
Date of work debated;  Giovanni di Francesco's life:  1412-1459.
Museo Nazionale del Bargello
September 19, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Closeup of the Virgin and Child
in the Carrand Triptych by Giovanni di Francesco
Museo Nazionale del Bargello
September 19, 2018
Florence, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


When you visit the churches and museums of Italy to see the religious art,
you quickly realize there are common events depicted over and over by incredible artists:  
the Annunciation, Madonna and Child, the Crucifixion, Christ in Heaven, 
and assorted wealthy patrons of the arts
looking for grace and redemption by supporting the artists.
Below are a few more of my favorite frescos and paintings.


Bearing of the Cross
Fresco by Andrea Bonaiuto 1366-67
The Spanish Chapel, 
Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Florence, Italy
September 17, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved






The central portion of the painting The Dead Christ 
by Jacopo Robusti called Tintoretto (1592-1594) 
Senate Chamber in the Doge's Palace 
Venice, Italy.
September 17, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved






Mourning the Dead Christ by Giotto, ca 1305
The Scrovegni Chapel
Padua, Italy.
September 15, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved






Coronation of the Virgin
Upper Facade (completed between 1360 and 1370)
Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption
Siena, Italy
September 20, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved





The Location of the Coronation of the Virgin
Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption
Siena, Italy
September 20, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



This post was part of my friend's Rain's Thursday's Art Date.

I hope all is well with each of you!





Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved










Videos:

1.  Steve Balsamo:
     Gethsemane





2.  Sara Bareilles & Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber:
     I Don’t Know How to Love Him





3.  Jesus Christ Superstar (1973):
       Damned For All Time



4.  Ben Forester, Melanie C, and Tim Minchin:
     Everything's Alright





28 comments:

  1. "Jesus Christ Superstar" is my favourite musical too! I had the original 1970 boxed set of LPs and positively wore them out. I love Norman Jewison's film version and have seen it an endless number of times as well.

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    1. Yes, Debra, I wore out my LPs too ~ LOL! And I love the 1973 movie as well. I should have included the clip of Herod because it is such fun, "Walk across my swimming pool... ." I hope that you and your Rare One are enjoying a fun weekend! Hugs to you!

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  2. I have to say, I've never seen this. I am aggressively looking for interesting movies so I may try this out!

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    1. Oh Jacqui, Jesus Christ Superstar is not to be missed! Steve Balsamo's "Gethsemane" is perhaps my favorite clip ever from JCS. Andrew Lloyd Webber said it was the most difficult song to sing that he ever wrote (http://musicaltheatremusings.co.uk/gethsemane). If you do nothing else with JCS, listen to Balsamo's performance of "Gethsemane. It is perfection!

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  3. Yes, this is a good one for sure. These photos of amazing. I would like to take those steep steps to the top. Have a wonderful day.

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    1. Hi, Nicole! Thanks for visiting. I climbed up to the cupola in the Florence Cathedral, and it was really something, especially when the stairs curve over the dome and you realize you're climbing between two shells in the dome and the floor of the church below the dome must be well over two hundred feet below. Freaky!!! The base of the lantern on the top of the dome is 298 feet high, so it was a huge relief for me to climb out and walk around the lantern. I am scared to death of heights, and I could barely approach the waist highish wall surrounding the lantern. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world! Have a great day!

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  4. Yes, yes, I saw Jesus Christ Superstar in Chicago and I loved it too, but unlike you I wasn't student of it and your lengthy discussion makes me wonder what I must have missed by not delving into the details as you have. I love that you have joined us at TAD ... you are so well informed and articulate about so many things. I learn something new every time I come to visit you and it is almost always uplifting. I wish you well and now I am going to go back and soak in the beautiful music clips you have added and absorb some of the beauty of the magnificent renaissance art in Italy, a place I have never been and, at my age, may never go and now I am regretting it. Thank you for such a lovely post ...

    Andrea @ From the Sol

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Andrea! It warmed my heart! I'm glad that you loved the production in Chicago. I would dearly love to see JCS again. I'm sorry that you haven't had a chance to go to Italy. Italy holds a special place in my heart. It was Vesuvius and Pompeii that drew me, but I fell in love with everything else Italian. I hope that you enjoyed the music. Have a happy, creative week!

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  5. Hi, this is not really my thing. But glad you joined TAD and your visit to my post.
    I am sure you will be able to create art if you try.
    Take care.

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    1. Thanks, Monica! The fun thing about blogging is that you can get exposed to things you might not otherwise, and if it's not your thing that's okay! Thanks for stopping by. Take care!

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  6. ...of course I've heard of the musical, but I never knew much about it. You sure did a fabulous job with Rain's prompt. I will be waiting to see what you come up with for "ditches and holes" next week!

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    1. Thanks, Tom! I have lots of holes and ditches! LOL! Take care

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  7. I love the songs in Jesus Christ Superstar.

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    1. They are wonderful, Christine! Have an awesome, creative week!

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  8. Oh, Louise, I've never seen "Jesus Christ Superstar" and now I want to! I've always been curious but didn't really know much about it. Thanks for sharing about it.

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    1. I hope you get to see JCS, Martha! It is moving and inspiring. Have a wonderful week, my friend! Hugs to you!

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  9. I've still yet to watch this one. May have to get on that one of these days. 463 steps though? Pfffft. I could do it, but there would be some grumbling as I hit 300 or so hahaha

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    1. I'm sure you could, Pat. I wasn't grumbling near the top; I was doggedly determined and conserving my breath. Near the end when the stairs visibly curve and you're climbing over the dome, it's freaky. I tried not to think about the stairs failing and me landing splat two hundred plus feet below in a jumble of brick and fresco. Sometimes it's good not to have a big imagination! Have a great week, my friend!

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  10. Thank you for sharing the gorgeous works of art with us. I still have my Jesus Christ Superstar album. A friend and I listened to it over and over when we were in 6th and 7th grade. We memorized every song and sang along.

    Love,
    Janie

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  11. Louise,

    I remember seeing the TV version of Jesus Christ Superstar. The music was phenomenal. The story of Christ tears at my heart. All He suffered on behalf of the world can never be repaid. I love your spin on the theme and enjoyed viewing your magnificent photos of old art. FYI your gravatar sign-in profile does not have your blog URL attached to it but luckily I found that you added your direct link on Rain's Thursday Art Date party and found my way to your place. You may want to either update your Gravatar profile or include your URL when you leave a comment or insert your web address into comments. One of these ways will ensure others will find you easily if they aren't particpators of TADwR. ;) Thanks for visiting and have a doodle/phototastic week!

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    1. Hi, Cathy! I'm glad that you enjoyed my post. Thank you, thank you for alerting me to the commenting issue. I'm working on it, but meanwhile I'll add https://selkiegrey4.blogspot.com to my comments. Have a happy, creative week!

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  12. I would like to see it one day

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    1. I hope that you get to, Adam! I love live musical performances, especially musical theatre. I hope all is well with you, Adam! Take care!

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  13. Lots of good, powerful music here. What did you think of Godspell?

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    1. Hi, Jeff! I haven't seen "Godspell," but now it's on my radar. I looked it up, and I think I would enjoy it. Have a great week, my friend! Take care!

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  14. You know Louise, I love visiting your blog because I learn so much. I have never seen Jesus Christ Superstar, of course, know the title music song but that was about it. I loved how you described it and how you connected with it!! I LOVE the photos you shared from Florence, oh I'm envious that you saw these beautiful works of art, sculpture and architecture in person! What a memorable experience. So happy you are joining in my friend!!! xxx

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    1. Thanks, Rain! The teacher in me loves your comment! I am in love with Italy. We were going to return last year. @#$%^& Covid. Maybe next year. I remember the first moment I saw Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (aka Florence Cathedral, Duomo). We rounded a corner and there it was sparkling in the sunlight, completely unexpected. It was (and is) the most beautiful building I've ever seen. When I go to a new city, I don't spend hours pouring over travel books before we go. I like to see it with new eyes. Then after I've seen it, I learn everything I can about it and hope to return. I have drawn a hole for this weeks TAD. It's pretty sad, but I have to start somewhere. Hugs to you!

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    2. Thanks, Rain! The teacher in me loves your comment! I am in love with Italy. We were going to return last year. @#$%^& Covid. Maybe next year. I remember the first moment I saw Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (aka Florence Cathedral, Duomo). We rounded a corner and there it was sparkling in the sunlight, completely unexpected. It was (and is) the most beautiful building I've ever seen. When I go to a new city, I don't spend hours pouring over travel books before we go. I like to see it with new eyes. Then after I've seen it, I learn everything I can about it and hope to return. I have drawn a hole for this weeks TAD. It's pretty sad, but I have to start somewhere. Hugs to you!

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate the time and energy you put into making them very much.