31 Days of Opera Awesomeness Murder in the Cathedral

Ildebrando Pizzetti’s ‘Assassinio nella cattedrale’ is based on an actual historic event, the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket on December 29, 1170.

Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket was born in London in 1118. His humble parents made sure he learned to read and sent him to Paris for his studies. After various jobs as a clerk and deacon, he became the young king’s Chancellor at the age of thirty-six, the second most powerful person in the country. The relationship between King Henry II and the twenty year older Thomas Becket at that time is documented as a strong friendship with both men enjoying splendor. This did however change in 1162 when Henry II made Becket the Archbishop of Canterbury. Feeling like he could not serve two masters, Thomas Becket resigned as Chancellor, choosing God over the king. Along with this switch came a grave change in lifestyle, Becket became a prime example of a disciplined and praying priest.
Conflicts and many misunderstanding between king and archbishop followed, causing him to go into exile in France in 1164. Seven years and many efforts by the pope and the French king Louis VII later reconciliation seemed to have been reached. Becket returned to Canterbury to be murdered 27 days later by four knights on December 29, 1170. On February 21, 1173, — little more than two years after his death — Archbishop Thomas Becket was canonised by Pope Alexander III and has ever since been known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury. Many wonders were found and for the rest of the Middle Ages his shrine was one of the wealthiest and most famous in Europe.

The Murder
Learn more about his murder by watching this excellent BBC documentary:

San Diego Opera's Murder in the Cathedral has its West Coast premiere in America on March 30, 2013. It is directed by Ian Campbell and starring Ferruccio Furlanetto as Becket.  


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