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Preview: 'Murder in the Cathedral'

March 27, 2013 11:29 p.m.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando previews the opera, "Murder in the Cathedral."

Related Story: Preview: 'Murder in the Cathedral'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: The murder of archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170 has been the subject of of the stage and screen. It’s also the basis of the rarely performed opera, “Murder in the Cathedral.” KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando gives us a preview.

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T.S. Eliot’s verse drama “Murder in the Cathedral” used the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket to address issues of an individual’s opposition to authority. He wrote it in the 1930s as Fascism was rising in Central Europe. In 1958, it became the basis for Ildebrando Pizzetti’s opera. This weekend “Murder in the Cathedral” receives its West Coast premiere at the San Diego Opera. A key element is a female chorus says director Ian Campbell.

IAN CAMPBELL: The chorus will never leave the stage, the women will always be there because at the end of their first scene they say we are condemned only to watch. They know they can’t do anything about the events that they have a premonition about and since they are condemned to watch I’m going to have them watching.

Production designer Ralph Funicello creates a set that captures the epic scale of Canterbury Cathedral. There are stunning stained glass windows, massive pillars, and plenty of steps to provide the chorus with multiple levels of observation. He says designing for opera is different than designing for a stage play.

CLIP music

RALPH FUNICELLO: As I have always said, you design for the music in an opera. I mean there’s the story and the plot and all that but what really keys in to what the scale and the emotional feeling of the design really comes more from the music than anything.

“Murder in the Cathedral” runs through April 7th at the Civic Theater.

Beth Accomando, KPBS NEWS.