Setting Dante’s journey to eternity to song

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dante's "The Divine Comedy" is not, at first glance, obvious libretto material for contemporary musical theater. It's about the Christian afterlife, features tormented sinners condemned to burn in eternal flames, and the grand finale is a hymn to the Virgin Mary and God's absolute love - hardly a Broadway showstopper.

Yet for the composer Monsignor Marco Frisina, Dante's journey to the three realms of the dead - Hell, Purgatory and Paradise - was a score in waiting.

"There is a lot of music in 'The Divine Comedy' already. Dante wrote it in canticas and cantos; there's rhythm, a lot of passion. It is the perfect text for a musical work," said Frisina, who has been chapel master of the Musical Lateran Chapel since 1985.

What "The Divine Comedy, The Opera: Man's quest for love" (the full title of the production) is not is a musical.

"I see it as Italian opera. I leave musicals to the Americans, who are better at it," Frisina said in a telephone interview.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMusic

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Posted November 30, 2007 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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