Sunday, April 21, 2019

Everything is All Right, Magdalene

Easter Sunday, and Jesus Christ is Superstar again.

Here is the Russian version of ‘Everything’s All Right’ number that is often referred to as ‘Magdalene’s Lullaby’.

In the midst of the soothing singing, the fierce argument continues between Jesus and Judas. Mary is anointing Jesus with myrrh ‘to cool the fire’ in Jesus’s head. ‘Relax, think of nothing tonight,’ she says.

Apostle Judas challenges her and Jesus, 'Hey woman, your fine ointment, brand new and expensive, 
should have been saved for the poor. Why has it been wasted? We could have raised maybe three hundred silver pieces or more'.

Mary Magdalene carries on, ‘try not to get worried, try not to turn onto problems that upset you.’

Jesus seems to be annoyed by Judas’s accusation. He retorts, ‘Surely you're not saying we have the resources to save the poor from their lot. There will be poor always, pathetically struggling. Look at the good things you've got. Think, while you still have me, move, while you still see me, you’ll be lost, and you'll be sorry, when I'm gone.’

Tim Rice’s dramatic script was written in 1970s, with an emphasis on the conflict between Judas and Jesus, a conflict between a populist leader, the Messiah, and a socially minded Judas. The bells of that argument are ringing as loud today as they were then.

Curiously, the Russian version smoothes out this confrontation. And later on, when Judas is arguing with Simon about where the main thrust of Christianism should be, Simon seems to be in favour of the people’s rebellion, but Judas wants peaceful dispensation in favour of the poor and the suffering. Simon gets angry and snaps, “Несчастный либерал! Сиди и жди чудес!” — ‘You wretched liberal! Sit and wait for miracles!’ 

This anachronistic ‘liberal’, that appears in the Russian text, in the 90s and later certainly was meant to ring in the ears of the audience. In the post-Soviet period, ’liberal’ has swiftly become a swear word in Russian political parlance.

Anyway, here is the video (the 'Rock Opera' theatre, St Petersburg) —  

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