‘The Bright River’: A Hip Hop Version of Dante’s Inferno

“Quick lives in the City of the Dead, and pays his rent by finding souls lost in purgatory. Scouring the water-bound city for a red-headed girl named Calliope, Quick finds the soldier who loved her, a pager-carrying bouncer named King of the Birds, and a demon who claims to be toiling for the good of the world. With a live soundtrack of cello, flute, drums, and vocal calisthenics, The Bright River follows Quick’s journey through the dingy underworld – from the bus station of purgatory to the rooftop of creation.

“Deep and dark as the River Styx, this neo-gothic tale of love was first performed by energetic bard Tim Barsky to sold-out Berkeley crowds in 2005. Resurrected from the theatrical graveyard, this musical reinvention of Dante’s Inferno is set for a three month run. With music that thrums through your bones and a story that yanks your still-beating heart straight out of your ribcage, The Bright River is proof that hope comes at man’s darkest hour.” [. . .]    –7×7 Editors, 7×7, December 11, 2009.

Thrillpeddlers’ Club Inferno (2015)

Club Inferno“Club Inferno, a Glam-Rock Musical based on Dante’s Divine Comedy, is ‘one hell of a good time’, blending sinful women and kick-ass rock with a classic story of the afterlife.”    —Thrillpeddlers

The musical, which plays at the Hypnodrome in San Francisco, is put on by Thrillpeddlers and features a cast of characters like Dante, Xaron, and Cleopatra.

Read more about the show at SFGate.

Contributed by Bob Watt

“Blasphemy! strikes Madison: Walmartopia creators discuss new disco opera”

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“Religion has always been a central element of American political strife, with the excesses and calumnies of Christian fundamentalism providing a broad and sustained target for satire by believers and nonbelievers alike. Playwrights Catherine Capellaro and Andrew Rohn flout the latest manias and offer up laughs with Blasphemy, their new ‘wicked trio of musical comedies that takes aim at creationists, George W. Bush, Rapture Christians, and intolerance of all stripes.’
Premiering at the Bartell Theatre on January 9, this production is the latest creation by the husband-and-wife team, whose previous musical Walmartopia broke theatrical box office records in Madison before hitting the national stage with an Off Broadway run last year. As they did with their send-up of the smiley-faced corporate behemoth, the pair goes for laughs in Blasphemy by taking on an American institution, in this case the tenets of faith-based politics.
In a nod to Dante’s Divine Comedy, the show is split into three tales, titled ‘Rapture,’ ‘Purgatory,’ and ‘Paradise.’ The anticipation of politicians like George W. Bush and Sarah Palin for the return of Jesus, a disco meditation on death, and a parable about the revelation of evolution to Adam and Eve together comprise a wicked triptych of sacrilege.” [. . .]    –Kristian Knutsen, The Daily Page, December 23, 2008

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Hell, the Musical

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“The Vatican has challenged purist Roman Catholics by disclosing plans for a daring rock, punk and jazz opera version of Dante’s Divine Comedy with a soundtrack written by an avant-garde priest.
Monsignor Marco Frisina uses rock music as background for the Inferno, Gregorian chants for Purgatory and lyrical and symphonic classical and modern music for the advent of Paradise in the musical set to be staged in the autumn.
After a premier in a leading Rome theatre sponsored jointly by the Vatican and Italy’s two houses of parliament, the extravaganza will tour other major Italian and European cities ‘to bring back the attention of the widest public to Dante’s immortal poem,’ Riccardo Rossi, director general of Nova Ars, the company producing the opera, told La Repubblica newspaper.”    –John Phillips, The Independent, January 3, 2007

See also : La Divina Commedia home page.

Contributed by Gloria Smith; Patrick Molloy