Mary Musical to Premiere in Vatican

Highlights Virgin's Ongoing Role in History

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A musical about the Virgin Mary and her ongoing role in history has gained the sponsorship of various Vatican officials and organizations.



Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, and the Pontifical Councils of Culture and Social Communications are sponsoring "Mary of Nazareth: A Story That Continues."

The work will premiere June 17 in Paul VI Hall.

The musical is written and directed by Maria Pia Liotta. The music is written by Stelvio Cipriani and soprano Alma Manera plays the role of Mary of Nazareth. Some 40 actors, 12 ballet dancers and the orchestra of the Calabrian Theater "Francesco Cilea" also participate.

The initiative was presented today in the Vatican press office, in the presence of Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

"We are all aware that Mary is known for her role in the life of Christ the Lord and in the life of the Church, but it pleases me to highlight how she has presented and communicated to us the Word of God made flesh among men," Archbishop Celli said. "That is why I like the title of this work, 'A Story that Continues.'

"It is Mary who continues to carry out this role -- in the world and in the Church -- of communicating her son to men." The dicastery "is happy to see this work and to give it its sponsorship," he affirmed.

The show tells the story of Mary as daughter, spouse and mother, without misinterpreting Scripture, "but with some poetic license." It seeks to show Mary as "an ideal bridge between yesterday, today and always: a story that continues," a statement from the producers explained.

History's most famous

Father Stefano Di Fiores, a Marian theologian, oversaw the doctrinal content of the musical. During the presentation, he explained the initiative's spiritual meaning.

He said that there are many ways to consider who is Mary and how she is introduced in a musical.

"Mary is truly the most famous woman in history, […] not only has she filled art with her person," but she "has inspired" so many people, he noted.

"Even the media have opened to the Marian topic," Father Di Fiores said, "at first considering the theme as something devotional," but eventually "seeing Mary as a very living figure, much loved by the people; [a woman] with whom is shared the sorrows, sufferings and hopes of so many women around the world, especially in the Catholic, but also in the Muslim world."

Because, "this veneration of the Virgin Mary" is, so to speak, shared, "it is a point of contact with all religions -- because Mary represents not only a point in the spiritual history of Israel," but also in that of the world, the Marian theologian stressed.

"If we wonder how we should respond to a God, who reveals himself, we cannot but go to Mary, who is an example in Islam, an example of the Lord's poor and an example of total self-giving to God who reveals himself," he continued. "We respond through faith, and Mary is blessed because she believed."

Star of hope

In this Marian approach, Father Di Fiores suggested a rereading of the encyclical "Spe Salvi," in which Benedict XVI indicated Mary as the person who can be the "star of hope" that shines reflecting the light of Christ. She who "with her 'yes' opened the door of our world to God himself."

In his explanation of the musical, Father Di Fiores specified: "The present tendency is no longer that of the glories of Mary, but rather that of Mary, woman of our days, […] close to us.

"This line of 'humanization' of the figure of Mary is perceived in the musical Mary of Nazareth according to the intuition of Maria Pia Liotta, who with extreme sensitivity, has captured the need to bring the figure of the Virgin closer to our time, showing her historical image of humble Jewish woman."

The show does not "trivialize" Mary, Father Di Fiores added. It enables one to "perceive her mystery of woman who lives according to the rhythm of God and of his Word: 'Your voice is my life,' [soprano] Alma [Manera] sings."

The Italian Senate, the Lazio Region and the Roman and Calabrian municipalities are also sponsors of the musical, produced by AIRAM: Cultura e Comunicazione.