Earlier this week, Kanye West announced that he had another opera in the works. Mary followed the Christmas nativity story. It was staged today (December 8) at the boat-racing arena Miami Marine Stadium, which looks out onto an expanse of water instead of astroturf. His latest collaboration with artist Vanessa Beecroft fell on the final day of Art Basel.
Mary was originally slated for a 3 p.m. start time. The opera’s aquatic location made it accessible only via motorboat, and the performers loaded onto the stage around 4 p.m. As was the case for Kanye’s debut opera Nebuchadnezzar, Mary featured new arrangements of older Kanye songs, including “Devil in a New Dress,” “Love Lockdown,” “Power,“ “I Thought About Killing You,” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” which was arranged for a brass section, choir, and what sounded like a Mellotron. It also included traditional Christmas songs like “O Holy Night,” “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” and “Drummer Boy.”
The chorus of performers once again wore matching robes, but this time, everyone was head-to-toe sparkling silver—even their faces and hands were coated in metallic paint. Kanye and the choir performed on a floating barge at the Key Biscayne waterfront, where they stood between sand-colored mounds and reenacted excerpts from the books of Matthew and Luke. Throughout Mary, Kanye read gospel passages aloud, much like he did in Nebuchadnezzar, only this time he was among the performers, costumed in the same shining garment as his co-stars. The only performer to don a different colored robe was the woman who portrayed the Virgin Mary—hers was a glittering seafoam green.
Mary ran for approximately one hour. The performers left the stage, and were whisked away in a motorboat. Surveying the bleachers, a handful of KANYE FOR PRESIDENT 2020 shirts stood out among the several hundred audience members. “I don’t know religious music,” one attendee said. “But Kanye is God.”
Reporting by Alfred Soto