Vatican Corner 02-10-2019

Rome ’ s former symphony hall, the 1,300 seat – Auditorium della Conciliazione, located close to the Vatican just off St. Peter ’ s Square, has been presenting two shows a day since March 15, 2018 of a “ fully – immersive, live multimedia production entitled “ Universal Judgment: Michelangelo and the secrets of the Sistine Chapel. It is an hour long high – tech spectacle with live performances by actors, dancers and acrobats, and with lasers and high – definition projectors on an arched screen the same size as the actual Sistine Chapel. It takes the audience right into the Chapel and gives them a 270 – degree perspective. The show has surround sound, orchestral music, brilliant special effects, and a main theme song composed and sung in Latin by the artist Sting and an 18 member choir. The theme is Sting ’ s modern day take on 13th century sacred music. There is 16 minutes of narration explaining how, in 1508, the sculptor Michelangelo, with no experience in fresco painting, was called by Pope Julius II to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling. He accomplished the feat in 500 days and then 20 years later he was called back by Pope Clement VII to paint the Last Judgment above the chapel altar, which is the centerpiece of the show. Director/ Producer Marco Balich, who is famous for organizing several of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic Games, is the show ’ s artistic director. He began discussing the idea of the show with the Vatican in 2015. The Vatican Museums that oversee the Sistine Chapel ultimate ly gave the show its permission and approval on the condition that it respect the artistic, religious and spiritual values that the Sistine Chapel embodies. The Vatican Museum provided the high – definition digital images of the frescoes and followed each step of the show ’ s production process without interfering with the creative aspects. But the Vatican also made sure that the show ’ s content and references were historically accurate and did not stray too far off the righteous path. Ms. Barbara Jatta the Vatican Museum director gave the “ Universal Judgment ” show a thumbs up and said “ It is a delicate way to tell a beautiful story of faith, art and history, and it ’ s a way of communicating the Sistine Chapel in a way many generations can understand. ” But she said it won ’ t replace going to see the real thing. Nine million euros were spent on the show ‘ s production with the hope that it would run at least a year in Rome and possibly become a permanent fixture there. Producer Balich has talked with Moscow, other European cities and Latin American about tours of the show in those places. The Vatican does not make money from the production of the show but will receive “ contained ” royalties, whatever that means. Possibly someday the show could come to a theater near you. On January 28, 2019, Pope Francis reserved all the theatre seats and treated a group comprised of needy families, poor people, homeless, refugees, and prisoners to a Monday evening showing. The Office of Papal Charities regularly organized such events for the poor.