Italian Opera Company Preparing Show on Life of John Paul II

The Italian opera will debut in Rome on Dec. 8, with a special pre-debut at the Vatican during the month of October.

MADRID — Amid the announcement of Pope John Paul II’s canonization, an Italian production company is preparing a new opera about the life of the late pope.

Cicuta Produzioni is working on an opera entitled Karol Wojtyla: The Real Story, which will recount the life of the beloved Polish Pope from childhood until death.

The opera’s co-author, Patrizia Barsotti, told EWTN News on July 2 that the life of Pope John Paul II was chosen as the subject of the opera because “he was a man who experienced moments of great difficulty, great suffering.”

“He always told people to ‘be not afraid,’ to have the strength to begin and to continue forward,” said Barsotti. “This is something very important at this specific time of crisis in Spain and in the world.”

He explained that the opera “is aimed at adults, so that they might not become discouraged,” as well as at young people, in the hopes that they will find “the strength to believe in their own dreams and to strive and to sacrifice themselves to achieve them.”

Opera producer Mauro Longhin described the production as “the story of a person, of a man who always fought against fear. Hence, one of his most famous phrases: ‘Be not afraid.’”

In the modern world, he explained, “it’s more necessary than ever to not be afraid to take risks.”

Currently, the production team is in Spain for two days of casting from a pool of more than 500 applicants.

The opera — which is in Italian and is expected to run five years — will debut in Rome on Dec. 8, with a special pre-debut at the Vatican during the month of October. The company also plans to launch a Spanish version in the early months of 2014.

Dates for the opera have already been set in Europe and the United States, with performances in Latin America and Cuba expected as well.

Longhin acknowledged that bringing a musical on John Paul II to Cuba is risky, but he explained that “we are carrying the same message he carried in his trips, that of uniting peoples.”

The producers plan to hold castings for the opera in London and Krakow, as well as in Rome and Madrid. Spanish journalist Paloma Gomez Borrero, who is helping the company to find the right actors to play John Paul II and the other important figures in his life, said the right candidate should “not only evoke the physical aspect of the Pope, but also should radiate his personality and charisma."

“He needs to have that charming sympathy and mysticism that characterized him,” she said.

Longhin agreed and said that, so far, that right actor has not been found: “He needs to be an absolutely charismatic actor, both when reciting and singing. I know we are very demanding, and that it is a difficult character, but we still haven’t found anyone that convinces us.”