Mother’s Heart Helped Tell Mary’s Story, Says Author

Scriptwriter Talks of Challenges Behind Vatican-Sponsored Musical

By Marta Lago

ROME, JUNE 11, 2008 ( Putting words in the mouth of the Virgin Mary and having them sponsored by the Vatican is no easy task, but scriptwriter Maria Pia Liotta says that reflecting on her own motherly heart made it easier.

Liotta is the co-author (with Adele Dorothy Ciampa) of a musical about the Virgin Mary and her ongoing role in history, which has gained the sponsorship of various Vatican officials and organizations.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, and the Pontifical Councils of Culture and Social Communications are sponsoring “Mary of Nazareth: A Story That Continues.” The work will premiere Tuesday in Paul VI Hall.

Liotta’s daughter, soprano Alma Manera, plays the lead role as Mary.

“The topic is very difficult and very delicate,” Liotta acknowledged to ZENIT. “Believe me, it was an inspiration from the start. […] Nevertheless, to put words on Mary’s lips was very natural, because I tried to look into my interior self as mother; many times I tried to reflect on how a mother would react or act in face of specific situations and events. I think that, in the end, when one makes use of a mother’s heart, everything becomes much simpler.”

And Manera said that she took the role of starring in her mother’s musical with “responsibility, happiness and joy.”

“The fact of being able to share with the most important person in one’s life such a unique experience — of which she is author — is a most beautiful expression that brings the Lord close,” Manera said. “We are instruments in his hands.”

More eloquent than words

Liotta acknowledged that certain moments in Mary’s life were particularly difficult to portray. The Annunciation, she said, was the hardest.

Yet, the writer stated that she is “in love with every instant, with every second of this script and, consequently, with its realization, because it is something that I have experienced very profoundly.”

She explained, “Often words were not necessary, because Mary doesn’t need words; she has her gestures and physical expression, which are serene but quick, which are more eloquent than a word.”

Still though, Liotta continued, “How can one recount the Annunciation? It is a great challenge, as are many other moments. So I tried to avoid many words and to concentrate especially on the language of gestures and of music.”

And Manera tried to prepare herself well to represent Jesus’ Mother.

“I have always had devotion to Mary,” she admitted. “The preparation is absolutely simple, natural. There is a profound search with no desire to add anything more; therefore, without exaggerations, exaltations, emphasis. Everything is draped with sobriety.”

But there are challenges, the singer-actress admitted: “The emotions are transversal and very many. Everything is pure, it is poetry written in the gestures through the choreography, written in the words and in the music. Simply stated, one must follow a profound intuition, an inspiration.”

[Writing by Kathleen Naab]

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