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‘John the Baptist’ opera to be presented at Campbellsville University by Dr. James Moore

‘John the Baptist’ opera to be presented at Campbellsville University by Dr. James Moore
Dr. James “Jim” Moore

By Matthew Taylor, student news writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky – Dr. James W. “Jim” Moore has revived his opera from 1989, “John the Baptist,” to be played at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Ransdell Chapel, 401 N. Hoskins, Ave., Campbellsville, Ky.

In 1988, Moore was one of the 10 recipients of 150 applicants to receive the Al Smith Fellowship of $5,000 each from the Kentucky Arts Council. With that award, Moore was on sabbatical leave for the fall semester of 1988 to compose his opera, “John the Baptist.”

Moore first conducted “John the Baptist” with his wife, Nevalyn Moore, on May 2, 1989. After that, it “sort of disappeared in a pile,” said Moore. But now, “It’s time to bring it back out,” he said.

The University Opera Workshop, University Chorale and Concert Chorus will all join forces under the leadership of Dr. Tony Cunha, dean of the School of Music, to perform Moore’s “John the Baptist.”

The chorus will be accompanied by a pipe organ played by Nevalyn Moore, faculty emeritus in the School of Music who taught from 1983 to 2008; a brass quintet composed of two trumpets, one French horn, one tuba and one trombone and percussion with one timpani and miscellaneous percussions.

Compared to 1989’s version, the revised and renovated “John the Baptist” has a couple of changes primarily by adding and removing—or shortening—a few things. The addition of percussion is a new feature to the opera. Along with that, there were incomplete sections at the time of the first performance that have been completed through revision. A noticeable role that will be missing from the revived “John the Baptist” is the narrator role.

“An opera is like a music play,” said Moore. With that, Moore said “John the Baptist” will have costumes for the chorus and lead roles. As for the scene sittings, the audience will need to imagine the full setting.

“There will be some props and hints, but you will need imagination to see the full setting,” said Moore.

“John the Baptist” is separated in two acts with an intermission between acts. Act one is estimated to last 50 minutes, and act two is estimated to last 35 minutes.

The story of “John the Baptist” is based in the Judean hill country, about 5 B.C. where an elderly, childless woman, Elizabeth, prays that she might bear a child and that he might be a spiritual leader. The angel Gabriel appears to her priestly husband, Zacharias, to announce their prayer has been answered and they will have a son who is to be named John.

Ten years after John is born, his mother and father are killed at the hand of the cruel King Herod, and John is forced to take refuge in the Judean wilderness along with his cousin, Eleazar. Eleazar is convinced that John is ordained by God to become the long-foretold earthly messiah and king.

Twenty years later, still living in the wilderness, John is preaching repentance and baptizing those who will listen, including his cousin Jesus. John is later encouraged to rise up, form an army and free the Jewish people from their brutal oppression.

King Herod is concerned with John’s increasing popularity, while Herod’s female companion, Herodias, sees John as strong and attractive. Herodias conspires with some of John’s disciples to force John’s hand by sending him to prison.

She plans to help him “escape” and overthrow Herod, keeping her as his queen. John refuses to cooperate with her plan, and the furious Herodias instructs her daughter, Salome, to ask Herod for John’s head.

Find out how “John the Baptist” will end by going to view the opera at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, in Ransdell Chapel.

It is free and open to the public.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 11,500 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has Kentucky based off-campus centers in Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. Out-of-state centers include two in California at Los Angeles and Lathrop, located in the San Francisco Bay region. The website for complete information is

Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates, associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the status of Campbellsville University.