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Music Text

Libretto from the liturgy of the Roman Mass, with additional texts by Stephen Schwartz and the composer (L,E)


Celebrant (lead solo); soloists (ca.20 from Street People);
SATB robed choir (ca.60); boys' choir (ca.20 with boyS solo);
Street People (ca.45 singer-dancers)
Stage orchestra (in costume, acting as cast members): 2(I,II=picc).2(II=corA).3(=3sax(SAT)/Ebcl/bcl).2(II=dbn)- of traps/bongos/tpl.bl/finger cyms/glsp/2tambs-street perc:claves/bottles/gourds/3steel dr/tin cans/tambs-2elec.guitars-bass guitar-2elec.kybds
Pit orchestra: harp-2Allen org-timp.perc(3-4):cel/vib/glsp/marimba/xyl/chimes/SD/TD/
BD/bongos/4tuned dr/susp.cyms/cyms/tgl/tpl.bl/tamb/tam-t/wdbl/anvil/2cowbells-strings-pre-recorded tape

Abbreviations (PDF)

For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.

Boosey & Hawkes, Sole Agent

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
Alvin Ailey, choreographer / Gordon Davidson, director / Maurice Peress
Press Quotes

“…"Mass" re-emerged as the moving and visionary piece it's always been -- arguably the best thing Bernstein ever wrote.”
The Washington Post

“Bernstein left nothing of himself out of “Mass,” and like the man who wrote it, the piece demands to be noticed. …beneath the original dramatic conception, the creative exuberance, the showbiz glitter and the ear-catching set numbers is a sophisticated, carefully controlled piece of musical craftsmanship that repays close scrutiny. …Yes, Bernstein could manipulate a 12-tone row with the best of them.

“…[an] extravagant, exuberant and endlessly inventive creation…”
The New York Times

Recommended Recording

Jubilant Sykes, Marin Alsop, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Naxos

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