This theatre is bringing the Sistine Chapel to life with the Vatican’s blessing

The Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s the Last Judgement, an iconic piece of work that has been celebrated for its innovation and artistic design, is to be transformed into a theatrical piece. Producer of the Rio Olympics opening ceremony, Marco Balich, is at the helm of the ambitious project that premiered 15 March.

Low Angle View Of Mural In Sistine Chapel
The stunning Sistine Chapel Image by GettyImages/Andrew Nguyen / EyeEm

Described as “artainment”, his show in Rome’s former symphony hall, Auditorium Conciliazione, aims to bring the magic of the Sistine Chapel to the theatre audience. Titled “Universal Judgment: Michelangelo and the secrets of the Sistine Chapel,” the immersive experience features high-definition photographs provided by Vatican Museums which are projected on the stage, walls and ceiling. The four-part spectacle features live performances, special effects and viewers will see Adam and Eve up close and Noah’s Ark embraced in a storm.

Technicians work during a rehearsal of the show Universal Judgment: Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel. Image by GettyImages/ALBERTO PIZZOL

“Universal Judgment” is the first production of Balich’s “Artainment” company, combining art and entertainment “to educate and amuse, in order to realize the full and harmonious development of the human person,” according to Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication.

With a soundtrack composed by Sting and A-list Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino (World War Z, Angels & Demons) in the title role, the project is said to have cost in the region of €9 million (US$10.6 million). Sixteen minutes of narration will also feature that has been approved by the Vatican. The production will have limited performances and is said to have already sold 50,000 tickets. The producer is already in talks to bring the production to Moscow and Latin America with the hope that it will also feature on the big screen.

The Sistine Chapel comes to life in this epic show. Image by Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

“We want to imbue the fruition of a work of art with a strong emotional impact,” Balich told Vatican News, “using the codes that relate to the younger generations that have grown up with Playstation, that go to the movies in 3D, watch Netflix, but are on the other hand almost distracted with respect to this wonderful artistic patrimony.”

Artist Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling between 1508 and 1512. It is largely regarded as one for projects that fuelled the course of Western art and is a major artistic accomplishment.

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