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Vatican Premieres Musical on Life of Virgin Mary

A unique musical about the life of the Virgin Mary will premiere at the Vatican Tuesday evening. Mary of Nazareth - An Ongoing Story is the first musical to be made of the life of Mary. It traces the battle between good and evil, God and the devil, in Mary's life. For VOA, Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.

Mary of Nazareth - An Ongoing Story is an Italian production sponsored by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The story chronicles Mary's life - from her Jewish childhood, the Annunciation, her marriage to Joseph, the birth of Jesus and her Assumption*. It traces the battle between good and evil - God and the devil - in Mary's life as she grows up.

The producers say the goal of the musical is "to narrate the most extraordinary story that ever occurred, giving pride of place to the figure of Mary." They add that the musical seeks to show Mary as "an ideal bridge between yesterday, today and always: a story that continues."

The musical stems from an idea by writer and director Maria Pia Liotta who says it's the first time in history that a musical has been made about the life of the Virgin Mary.

Liotta says the musical is a very effective instrument to tell the story because it can reach everyone's heart, especially because it is made up of words, notes, melodies, dance and gestures."

Actress and soprano Alma Manera, who is Liotta's daughter, plays Mary. She says that she took the role of starring in her mother's musical with "responsibility, happiness and joy."

Manera adds she tried to interpret her role in the most natural, spontaneous and simplest way - first, as a young woman, then as a mother who is aware of her choice and whose 'yes' changed the history of humanity.

Well-known Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani, wrote the music. He says he tried to make it both spiritual and modern.

Cipriani says he tried to respect the spirituality and sacredness of this work while at the same time keeping it up to date.

Show organizers are hoping to schedule an international tour of the musical in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

* - clarified 19 Jun 2008. The word initially used was ascension.