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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 January 2007, 12:14 GMT
Hell the musical comes to Vatican
St Peter's Square
Organisers want to stage the premiere at the Vatican
A Vatican composer is to stage an opera based on Dante's Divine Comedy, with visions of heaven, hell and purgatory.

The lavish production is reported to include 200 performers and musicians, six projectors and a huge stage.

The composer, Monsignor Marco Frisina, has said it will contain a variety of musical styles, with hell illustrated with rock, punk and rave.

The Divine Comedy is an epic Renaissance poem describing the journey through three parts of the afterlife.

Frisina has written a large number of songs and soundtracks, for TV movies as well as religious works.

Durante Degli Alighieri (Dante) was born in 1265 and died in 1321
The Divine Comedy is regarded as one of the great works of Italian literature and an early sign of the Renaissance
The Divine Comedy is divided into three parts, reflecting the journey through hell, purgatory and heaven
Hell made up of nine circles, each with a series of torments - such as being boiled in pitch or frozen in ice
Purgatory is an island populated mainly by those who have sinned but are repentant
Heaven is a series of spheres graduated by love of God, and where Dante meets Beatrice, his lost love.
"It's a non-traditional opera, all kinds of sounds are used," he said.

Reports suggest heaven will be full of classical style melodies, the limbo of purgatory will be illustrated with Gregorian Chant, with hell full of more jarring music.

Frisina said the use of rock music to describe the devil's den was not a value judgment on the genre but that rock's "violent and rebellious tones" help create "a hellish atmosphere".

He confirmed most of the opera's lyrics are taken directly from the poem, a classic considered one of the first works of Italian literature.

The dancing routines were also inspired by Dante's descriptions, and elaborate sets will be enhanced by dozens of images projected on screens, Frisina said.

Organisers plan to start rehearsals in the next few weeks and have asked permission for the premiere to be held at the Vatican in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI.

They added it was hoped it would be possible to tour the production around Europe.

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