An overview of the Opera
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) is one of the most admired astronomers who ever lived. He defended Copernicus's sun-centred universe and defined the three laws of planetary motion. Less well known is the fact that in 1615, when Kepler was at the height of his career, his old, widowed mother Katharina was accused of witchcraft in a Lutheran town in Germany.. The proceedings led to a criminal trial, with Kepler conducting his mother's defence to fight for legal justice. Kepler's Trial responds to Paul Hindemith's Opera Harmony of the World and other accounts which present Katharina Kepler as deranged, witch-like woman. Based on Ulinka Rublack's book The Astronomer & the Witch the opera and film explore with empathy and nuance what it meant for Johannes and Katharina to face the trauma of an accusation of witchcraft, before and after the trial. The opera is the culmination of a highly unusual creative process, in which a team of leading scholars met regularly to explore the story. The film tells the story of the project, which has been funded by St John's College Cambridge and Cambridge University and is directed by Ulinka Rublack.