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Italian composer Licinio Refice was ordained as a priest in 1905, and his achievements as a composer sometimes led to conflict with the Catholic authorities. Cecilia was his first opera inspired by sacred themes, but even as a gloriously melodious azione sacra it took many years before a theatre production was possible. This 'song of Cecilia' narrates her martyrdom after refusing to renounce her Christian faith - it was an immediate and sensational success with audiences at it's premiere in 1934. With it's flowing and indisputably beautiful blend of Gregorian antiquity with verismo drama, Cecilia has retained an enduring and widespread popularity.