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"An archetypal struggle between terror and faith, power and love. The story chronicles a village's rite of passage from tyranny to a new order..."


Gabriel announces the birth of the Holy Child to shepherds in the fields. Scene begins with a spotlight on Gabriel and none of the set can be seen. As Gabriel sings his recitative and aria we begin to see stars. There is a special star burning brightly in the sky. The light from the stars casts shadows on rolling hills projected on a scrim revealing groups of shepherds listening to Gabriel. The scene ends with a chorus of shepherds as they run off to find the Holy Child.




It is a beautiful starry night fifty years later. The star that had been burning brightly in the last scene is still visible but faint. We meet Artaban. He is an old man with a long gray beard. Artaban begins to tell us his life’s story. Artaban was born a poor simple boy in a mighty kingdom. At a young age he discovered he had a gift of healing. When he used his gift to heal the king he was given the position of Magi – a holy advisor to the king.

Over thirty years ago, Artaban was one of four Magi in search of the Holy Child. However, he was unable to leave the same time as the other Magi. As a healer, there was a small child in the kingdom who was in need of his healing arts so he stayed behind a few days before setting out to join the other Magi. Artaban’s trip turned into a long journey filled with people and situations in need of his help and healing.  Artaban used his gift of precious gems intended for the Holy Child to save and improve the lives of others. Each time he does so he feels torn. Artaban realizes he has a mission but knows he is failing. Although it has been his life’s passion to encounter the miracle of the Holy Child it has eluded him his entire life. Throughout his journey, Artaban always listens to his heart. Despite his disappointment, in an odd way he knows he has paid great homage to the child. Artaban begins to recall one of his adventures in the village of Agoda.


Dawn is beginning to break. Zadok, priest and ruler of the Agoda village, stands in front of an altar. Zadok’s right hand man, Forton arrives to go over details of the two day Tryillias Festival. On the first day of the festival a child 10 years old or younger is selected in a lottery to be sacrificed to the pagan gods. The villagers believe that the child and family of the child are granted immortal life with the gods. Zadok informs Forton that the gods have told him who is to be sacrificed this year. Zadok hands Forton the name of Tiaro. He is the only child of the widow Malika. Zadok instructs Forton to hide Tiaro’s name in a secret compartment in the urn that will be used to select the child to be sacrificed. Forton praises Zadok and begs him to remember his servant Forton when he joins the gods. Zadok assures him that he will be at his side with the gods. Zadok exits as the first villagers begin to arrive.

Villagers arrive and begin decorating the altar with flowers and draping it with bright cloths. The village of Agoda is full of activity. Children are running freely while mothers tend to all the details of decorating and fathers stand around drinking. The scene continues with chorus and ballet while Forton arrives with the urn and begins going around to all the mothers in order to collect the names of children to be entered in the sacrificial drawing. Malika tries speaking to the other mothers of the village urging them not to give Forton their child’s name. The women of the village and Forton shun Malika. The scene culminates when Zadok arrives and selects the name of Tiaro from the urn, who is then torn from the side of his mother by Forton. Malika screams above the crowd’s raucous celebrating. She never gave Forton her son’s name. Her cries go unnoticed by the crowd and Zadok flees the altar and the crowd’s frenzied festivities to pray in the temple in preparation for the sacrifice that will occur the next morning.


Malika runs to the temple to find Zadok. She pleads with him to spare the life of her son. Zadok informs her that she has been a thorn in his side ever since she arrived in the village. She has undermined his power by telling people about her one God, and by being out spoken against the pagan gods. Now she must pay the price and understand how the world works, for there will be no mercy. He tells her that it is a godless world and only man can rule the weak hearts of superstitious people. There are no gods, God, or goodness. If her son is to be spared, it will have to be by her God and not his hands. He pushes her to the floor sobbing uncontrollably. Following an intermezzo, the scene ends with a beautiful aria of Malika praying to God.


It is late and Artaban is just arriving in the village. He sees Malika walking out of the temple. She tells him everything. He is moved by her story and by the abject cruelty of Zadok. He tells her about his pilgrimage and search for the Holy Child. He shares with her the burden of his heart. He has been a healer. All his life all he has ever wanted is to see the Holy Child. Despite Gabriel’s proclamation he wonders if the child even exists. However, each time he heals and another life is touched by a force he cannot explain, he realizes that the light of love must be in a constant balance with darkness. He urges her to go home and get rest. Her faith and love must be her comfort. The rest must be left to the hands of the Unknown.

Malika heads home, and Artaban goes in search of Zadok.



A fierce storm is brewing. Zadok is on the altar waving a large dagger in the air as it casts eerie shadows created by the storm’s lightening. Artaban finds Zadok and confronts him in a dramatic duet.


The storm of the previous night is gone. It is dawn of the second day of the Tryillias festival. A fire outside the temple has been lit in preparation for the sacrifice. On the center of the altar there is a large dagger standing upright in its sheath. Murak, the village simpleton and outcast, is alone on stage telling us about his one eye, one, leg and one arm. Artaban arrives and when he sees Murak’s ailments cures him on the spot. The women of the village arrive and marvel at Murak’s miraculous cure. At first they are convinced that Artaban must be either a god or priest. Artban informs them that he is neither one of their gods nor priest. The women ask Murak to fetch their husbands and show them his miracle.

Artban tells the women none of the gods they worship exist. He asks them what signs these gods have produced. Artaban asks some of the mothers present if they mourn the loss of their children.  Malika joins the women and shares her terror. She can see no reason for her son Tiaro to die. Malika sings a moving aria about the importance of motherhood. The other mothers begin to share with each other the pain and doubt they have felt about losing their children. Artaban tells them the sacrifices must stop.

Zadok and Forton arrive on the scene. They are dragging Tiaro who has been gagged and cannot speak but is struggling to free himself from the grip of Zadok and Forton. The villagers begin to create a wall blocking Zadok and Forton’s access to the altar. Artaban positions himself in front of the chorus to intercept Zadok. Artaban reaches into his tunic and removes a splendant jewel and offers it to Forton in exchange for the boy’s life. Zadok snatches it from Artaban’s hand and tells him that the pagan gods will have their blood sacrifice and that the gods will accept his jewel in lieu of his life. Artaban points to the group of mothers and challenges Zadok to give the people a sign of the pagan gods. At this point the men in the village begin to surround Zadok and demand that he produce a sign. Sensing the crowd’s growing discontent Zadok forces his way to the top of the altar and frantically stabs the child as he screams. “Here is your sign, I am your god, pay homage to my might and power!” Forton follows right behind him and unsheathes a dagger he is carrying and stabs Zadok, screaming, “You have deceived us all.”  When he sees what he has done he runs out of the village.

Artaban and Malika attend to Tiaro’s wound. He is only badly injured and not dead. The men pick up the lifeless body of Zadok and throw him onto the temple’s roaring fire. The rest of the chorus sings about how things will be different from now on in the village. Artaban’s final words are, “Holy Child come. When will I find thee?”

Gabriel appears over the set, noticed only by the audience with a flaming sword held high above his head. The rest of the villagers assemble around Artaban, Tiaro, and Malika as the curtain falls.



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