Mary of Egypt: Behind the Scenes

DANIEL LEWIS and TabTV meet the team who are bringing opera to Kings College Chapel

Cambridge Cambridge Theatre classical music culture Doctrinal John Tavener Kings College Chapel Mary of Egypt Music Opera Preview

“The prostitute of Alexandria, Mary, is cast into the wilderness for spiritual contemplation. In the arid desert, Mary and Zossima, a holy man, find in each other a kind of spiritual ecstasy.”

So begins the synopsis for Mary of Egypt, the opera by British composer John Tavener (1944-2013) making its first appearance in the UK tonight in King’s College Chapel.

We caught up with co-director, Theodora Tavener, one of the composer’s daughters and Camilla Seale, who is playing the title role, at their first rehearsal in the chapel last week to talk about this little-known work and the performance, which marks the year anniversary of the composer’s death.

We quickly discovered that, sex workers and allusions to class A drugs aside, this is certainly not your ordinary opera.

Mary of Egypt is running from 29 to 31 October in King’s College Chapel. Visit for more information.