Opera Libretto

The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness
(1971 – 1 hour 30 minutes)

Opera-oratorio based on the Dead Sea Scrolls

Music by Ami Maayani
Libretto by Alan Roland
Published by Boosey & Hawkes

Overture, “Qumran,” performed live at Lincoln Center, NY and Tel-Aviv, IL


At the crossroads of time between B.C.E. and C.E., in the community of the Dead Sea Scroll Sect at Qumran, overlooking the Dead Sea.


During the hours just before dawn, apprehension is expressed by a chorus of the members of the Dead Sea Scroll Sect, concerning the approaching conquest by Roman power. They are reassured by their chief, the Teacher of Righteousness, who recalls how the people of Israel previously survived in exile and strove towards the Light under the state domination of both Egypt and Babylonia. During their recounting of past sufferings, Alexander Jannaeus, the tyrannical king who had persecuted the Sect, suddenly appears, called forth for Judgment from eternity’s resting place. Also called upon in a prophetic vision of the Teacher is Titus, the as yet unborn Roman general, who later conquered Jerusalem, in order to view the future conquerors of Rome, to witness its final defeat. A confrontation develops between Light and Darkness, between spiritual illumination and earthly ambition and conquest. The tension of the confrontations gives birth to the great vision of the War Scroll, a final war between the forces of Light and Darkness. The Teacher in the vision describes the great battle between the Sons of Light, the spiritual heirs of the ancient Jewish tradition, and the Roman Legions, represented by Choruses and dancers, terminating in the victory of Light.

Dawn arrives at Qumran with the appearance of the Messiah, proclaiming a new era of a great synthesis from amongst the Jewish, Greek, and Roman genius. But it will be an era where the Messiah needs the dispersion of the Jews in order to be the welding force, the softening touch of conscience in the West. The Teacher with profound sadness then calls the Sons of Light to voluntary exile, to repair their walking sticks and sandals, to wander over dunes to bring heavenly Jerusalem to all.

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