New Production, 2022
National Symphony Orchestra, The Kennedy Center


Director: Alison Moritz
Choreographer: Hope Boykin
Conductor: James Gaffigan
Production Design: Aaron Copp
Costume Design: Lynly Saunders
Photos: Scott Suchmann


“…an astonishingly unrestrained and vulnerable performance” (Anne Midgette)

“The real stars, though, were [Will] Liverman and [Alison] Moritz… because they honored the piece with such serious artistic engagement.” (Anne Midgette)

“In the hands of director Alison Moritz and choreographer Hope Boykin, ‘Mass’ felt less transfigured than restored: its details clarified, its highlights polished, its angles more keenly lit.” (Washington Post)

“Moritz shapes the tale decisively around the Celebrant’s soul-sickness… shifting joy, doubt, and a quest for big answers to the riddles of existence.” (Broadway World)

“A fiery force to behold!” (DC Theatre Arts)

From Alison

At its premiere, MASS was politically and aesthetically divisive. However, the work may have finally found its moment. While honoring the prescience of its creators, it is important to remember that there is precedent for the liturgical innovation evoked here. The Catholic Church made significant changes during Vatican II in the 1960s, including encouraging readings in the vernacular and reorienting the altar towards the congregation. In the United States, the Black Catholic Movement gained momentum later in the decade. Local Black congregations integrated their own musical traditions and diasporic influences into the liturgy, resulting in remarkable expansion of the form. Seen through this lens, Bernstein’s MASS is not only a riff on the Roman Catholic tradition, but also an inspired homage to the influences of Americans of all colors and backgrounds who have created their own celebrations in response to (and, at times, despite of) the inherited Western European canon.

As an American artist working primarily in opera, I try to live with one foot in the past, one foot in the present, and my eyes towards the future. In this, perhaps I’m standing on Bernstein’s shoulders – MASS is ultimately a hopeful piece, but one that doesn’t abdicate our responsibility to the present moment.