(RNS) — Snake-handling Pentecostals may be on the fringe of American religious culture, but a new opera brings their exuberant worship and rockabilly-inspired music to center stage this week.

Taking Up Serpents,” a 60-minute work by composer Kamala Sankaram and librettist Jerre Dye, debuts Jan. 11 and 13 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Set in Gulf Shores, Ala., the opera tells the story of Kayla, a 25-year-old clerk in a convenience store whose

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