But it's not a value judgment on rock music - but its "violent and rebellious tones help create a hellish atmosphere" that just seemed to fit the spirit of Dante's description of the inferno, Msgr Marco Frisina told Vatican Radio, according to a Catholic News Service report.
Msgr Frisina, a liturgist for the Diocese of Rome and a composer of religious music, said the new work, "The Divine Comedy: The Opera," will use a 100-piece orchestra, 50 dancers and singers, and more than 250 costumes.
The lyrics will be taken, for the most part, directly from the poem, and even the dance routines are based on Dante's descriptions.
The elaborate stage, graced with 200 performers and musicians, will also include six projectors, enabling large-screen representations of illustrations from classic editions of Dante's work.
According to the opera's production company, Nova Ars, the set will be one of the biggest ever used for an operatic work and will be designed to allow audience interaction in some of the scenes.
Msgr Frisina has dedicated the opera's musical score to Pope Benedict XVI and said he hopes the pontiff will attend the premiere in Rome next fall.
Dante Alighieri's medieval poem about life after death, considered one of the masterpieces of world literature, imagines a journey through the three realms of the dead.
It opens in hell, and that part is often read separately as Dante's Inferno, the inspiration for countless artists, according to the ABC's AM program.
It is not the first time that Msgr Frisina has composed important music for the Vatican and his work featured during the 2000 Jubilee and a CD called Jesus Christ, You Are My Life, which was released specially for the Pope's visit to Germany last year.
Vatican's new opera to paint heavy metal picture of hell (ABC AM, 8/1/07)
Hard rock in hell: Monsignor makes 'The Divine Comedy' a musical (Catholic News Service, 8/1/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Marco Frisina website
Dante Alighieri (Wikipedia)
The Divine Comedy (Wikipedia)
The Divine Comedy website
9 Jan 2007