Juan Darién: A Carnival Mass is a musical with music and lyrics by Elliot Goldenthal and a book by Goldenthal and Julie Taymor. The musical premiered Off-Broadway in 1988 in the former St. Clement's Church. It was subsequently reworked and refined before playing on Broadway in 1996 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, directed by Taymor. The musical, based on a modern fable of the same name by Horacio Quirogà, is set in the jungle in South America, with a jaunty skeletal Death ever present. Its story concerns an orphaned jaguar cub who is miraculously transformed into a human child by the compassion of a woman who has lost her own baby; the boy must then confront the savagery of human civilization. The production employs masked actors and puppets, and the score includes elements of Latin American folk music and the Requiem Mass. The piece was revived and toured extensively.
Goldenthal collaborated closely with the musical's director, and his romantic partner, Julie Taymor to create a score that would complement their off-beat concept, blending musical styles with a carnival version of a Requiem Mass sung in Latin and Spanish, primal jungle calls, sharp-edged jazz and hints of minimalism. It was well received by critics. Goldenthal played the small role of Circus Barker/Streetsinger. The piece is sometimes described as a passion play.