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Faculty of Music


The Victoria and Albert Museum is to host a complete opera for the first time with a public performance of Kepler’s Trial on November 9, it has been announced. Tickets for the event, which is also the opera’s London premiere and takes place as part of the V&A’s new exhibition, Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, are available now through the museum website.

Kepler’s Trial tells the story of Katharina Kepler, the mother of the famous German Renaissance astronomer, Johannes. In 1615, Katharina was accused of witchcraft at the height of the European “witch-craze”, a frenzied period in which thousands of women were executed for alleged dealings in the occult.

Johannes, who was at the peak of a successful scientific career as the mathematician of the Emperor, abandoned his work and moved his family to southern Germany so that he could lead his mother’s defence. In the autumn of 1621, six years after her ordeal first began, Katharina was finally set free. Her family was torn apart by the affair and, exhausted, she herself died just six months later.

The opera was developed by a team based at the University of Cambridge, and involved academics and artists from Cambridge, London and elsewhere. It is based on The Astronomer And The Witch, a new, research-based study of Kepler’s unique defence and his mother’s life by Professor Ulinka Rublack, Professor of Early Modern European History at St John’s College, Cambridge, while the libretto and score were written by Tim Watts, a composer who teaches music at St John’s. The Director, William Ashford, is an alumnus of St John's, and producer Kate Romano also studied at Cambridge.