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Luther: The Rock Opera

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This article is about the musical production. For the 2017 graphic novel, curriculum, giant “Table Talk” Coloring pages and other related resources, see www.lutherstudy.com. For the rock opera album, see Luther: The Rock Opera (album).

 

Luther

 

Album cover for the 2017 American
release of Luther

 

Written by

Rich Melheim

Music

Michael Bridges & George Baum

 

Productions

            2017 Concept album

            2017 Off Broadway?

            2017 Bollywood?

            2017 Seoul?

            2020 Broadway? 

 

Luther, a 2017 rock opera written and produced by Rich Melheim, Michael Bridges and George Baum. Art and Staging by Jonathan Koelsch and Sherwin Schwartzrock. The musical started as a comic book and a series of study guides written to publicize the feature film Luther in 2003 (Joseph Fiennes, Peter Ustinov, Alfred Molina, Claire Cox, Jonathn Firth.) The project was resurrected in Graphic Novel and Rock Opera to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in October 2017. The musical is sung-through, with no spoken dialogue. 

 

The story is carefully based on the life and times of Martin Luther, a Catholic Monk who protested against what he considered corruption and un-Biblical practices of the Roman Catholic Church of his day. Luther’s initial objection to the church was the selling of “Indulgences” - certificates guaranteeing forgiveness of sins and escape from purgatory. On October 31, 1517, the protesting monk-turned-professor nailed 95 Thesis addressing abuses of the church onto the Wittenberg University Church Door - the community bulletin board of it’s day. What was intended as a scholarly debate quickly turned into an international political fire-storm. Within days, students grabbed the works and translated them into a dozen languages. Thanks to Gutenberg’s printing press and the new pan-European postal service put in place year earlier, within months 18,000 copies of the seditious writings were lighting fires of protest across the Holy Roman Empire. Luther was summoned to Rome to answer for his heresy, but thanks to his protector, Elector Fredrick the Wise, the trail was held in Germany. When Luther was condemned as a heretic, Frederick arranged his kidnapping and hiding in Wartburg Castle. Sought as an outlaw but bored to despair in his exile, Luther translated the Bible into German, wrote letters fanning the flames of Reformation across the Empire, and finally returned to stop a Peasant’s uprising and guide the reforms.

The unlikely anti-hero of this story is the most Catholic of kings, Charles V. Crowned at 19 and presiding over Luther’s trial at 21 during the Diet (Council) of Worms, Charles first condemned the monk as an outlaw and a heretic, then spent the next 35 years trying to control, cajole, bribe and threaten the German princes, peasants and throngs of protesting (Protestant) priests to hold the Empire together. With Henry VIII of England threatening succession, King Francis I of France conspiring with Pope Clement VII and the Muslim Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to whittle away at his empire
Charles V lived in a constant battle between his loyalty to his beloved Catholic church, his contempt for Pope Clement VII (whom he later imprisoned when his soldiers sacked Rome, and his practical political/military needs to keep Sulyman from capturing Vienna and invading all of Europe. 

 

The work's depiction offers a free interpretation of the psychology of the troubled monk, two troubled kings (Charles V and Henry VIII), two troubled popes (Leo X and Clement VII), and the princes, professors, monks and pawns who played major roles in ushering in the end of the Medieval Era and the birth of the Modern Era. As with “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the recent hit “Hamilton”, contemporary attitudes and sensibilities blend with historical records and writings to pervade the lyrics. Ironic allusions to modern life are scattered throughout the depiction of political events. To date, the Graphic Novel, stage play, and study resources are being translated into German, Dutch, French and Portuguese. Other languages are pending and a future film is on the drawing boards.

Contents  [hide

1. Plot

            1.1 Act I

            1.2 Act II

            1.3 Act III

2. Principal roles

3. Musical Numbers

4. From graphic novel to stage

            4.1 Graphic Novel

            4.2 Stage Design

            4.3 Musical Album

5. Recordings and broadcasts

6. Films

7. Awards and nominations

8. Further reading

9. Refernces

10. External Links

 

1. Plot[edit]

            1.1 Act I

            1.2 Act II

            1.3 Act III

  

2. Principal roles[edit]

CharacterVoice type

Description

Martin Luther

tenor (A2–G5?)

Title role, tormented monk-turned-reformer, seen as heretic by some and a hero by the bulk of the German nation

Katie von Bora

mezzo-soprano (F3–E5)

Narrator, nun who escapes her convent. When Luther arranges her marriage to a colleague and the man weds  another, Katie proposes to him.

Abbot

baritenor (A2–B4)

Head of the most disciplined, harsh Augustinian monastery in  all Germany

Staupitz

baritenor (A2–B4)

Luther’s mentor as a monk, priest, professor and reformer

Fredrick the Wise

bass (C2–F4)

Elector of Germany who helps put Charles V in power, then fights him and the Pope to protect Luther’s life

Leo X

countertenor (G2–D5)

Pope who issues the St. Peter’s Indulgence that prompts Luther’s protest. Leo wants Luther to comply or die.

Tetzel

baritone (A2–G4)

The slickest salesman in the indulgence trade.

Ulrich von Hutton

baritenor (A2–B4)baritenor 

Poet knight philosopher who sees Luther asn an opportunity to start a war for German independence on the spot

Wolfgang

tenor (C3–G4)

Peasant who embraces Luther’s revolution as a means to bring freedom to the peasants. 

Charles V

tenor (C3–G4)

Ruler of both Spain and the Holy Roman Empire. He needs peace and compliance to hold the Empire together and fight off the Ottoman Turk expansion across Europe.

Aleandro

tenor (C3–G4)

Prosecuting attorney at Luther's Trial. Sees Luther as a demon.

Clement VII

bass (C2–F4)

Illegitimate cousin of Pope Leo who bribes his way onto the Vatican throne, then conspires with King Francis (France) and Sultan Sulyman (Turkey) to carve out chunks of Europe from Charles V's empire.

Hans Luder

tenor (C3–G4)

Stern, harsh, judgmental copper-mining father of Martin Luther

Margarethe Luder

bass (C2–F4)

Luther’s broken-hearted mother

 

 

Musical numbers[edit]

Act One

   "Overture" – Orchestra

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   ""xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

 

Act Two

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   ""xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

    

Act Three

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   ""xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

   "xxxtitlexxx" – xxxList of Singersxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luther: The Rock Opera