As the Mass progresses, the Celebrant hears members of a street choir expressing doubts and suspicions about the necessity of God in their lives. As their questioning intensifies, the Celebrant hurls the sacred bread and the chalice of wine to the floor, which is seen as sacrilege by the other cast members.
“I love a good challenge but the first time I sang through this 14-minute number, I felt like I had gone through the entire show in one song,” Guthrie said. “I can sympathize with these people who question their faith and I can relate to what they're feeling.
“The Celebrant goes through joy, agony and doubt, emotions that turn on a dime. When he destroys the chalice, it's like a mad scene. This man's purpose in life has crumbled. I was exhausted the first time I sang through it. It's important to maintain the physical wherewithal to get through this journey.”
Guthrie said having the opportunity to dig into what he calls “a reactionary piece” has been not only a good exercise in testing the limits of his musicianship, but a musically rich and theatrically satisfying experience that will likely remain a high point in his career.
“I'm very respectful that this piece is out there in the world and that everyday people as well as men of the cloth can relate to it,” Guthrie said. “There are going to be parts that you don't agree with or that speak out against you and your beliefs.
“But as artists, we're supposed to make people think and provoke them. The longer I work on this piece, the vastness of it keeps growing. It's like dropping a coin down a well. I have yet to hear it land.”