Marcos Galvany hurt his eye on a playground when he was 5 in his small Spanish town, and when his parents brought him to Barcelona for weeks of treatment, he'd stay in a convent where his aunt was a nun. The convent had an old, upright piano that his aunt told him not to touch.
"So of course, I couldn't keep away," says Mr. Galvany. "I saw all those keys, and knew I'd bring music out of it."
He spent five and six hours a day at the piano, and eventually taught himself to play music while hearing the prayers and chants of the 22 nuns who doted on this sick little boy in their midst.
"Hearing all of their voices singing so beautifully just to God," he says. "I thought God put me there."
He became a composer and conductor, traveling the world and acclaimed by John Rutter as "one of the most talented and passionate composers of our time."
But for the past five years, Marcos Galvany has been working on an opera called "Oh My Son" that gives voice to music he says has been in his heart for more than 30 years. It is the story of Mary and Jesus, whom Mr. Galvany likes to see as a real, fragile mother and son with doubts and fears, as well as faith.
"Jesus is a scared man who doesn't want to die," he says. "He cries, 'Father, I don't want to drink from this cup. But it's your will that must be done.' And Mary—that's her son about to die. She gets angry. She says to God, "This is your son! This is my son! Is this your love?"
He finds Mary Magdalene especially poignant. She finally finds the one man who really cherishes her—in time for him to die. But then, she becomes the first person to see him as he's reborn.
"I cried a lot when writing the music," says Marcos Galvany.
Mr. Galvany has not only written the music and libretto. He's cast the performers, hired the orchestra, and the St. Patrick's Cathedral choir. He's printed the programs and tickets, and paid to rent Carnegie Hall for one night, next Saturday, April 10, to present "Oh My Son," with the soprano Meghan McCall as Mary Magdalene, and the tenor Antonio Gandia as Jesus.
It is the operatic equivalent of the man who hears a voice telling him, "If you build it, he will come."
Mr. Galvany hopes that lots of people do come to Carnegie Hall; he even sounds a little nervous.
But in this Easter and Passover season, there is something inspiring about the faith with which he will fill the stage for this one night. As much as any of his arias, it reminds us that acts of faith aren't just for Bible figures, but any man or woman who offers their hopes and gifts.
"If you do something out of love," he says, "amazing things can happen."