Duration: 01:07:04"


Baroque opera

Combining social commitment with serious artistic endeavour, Streetwise Opera and The Sixteen present THE PASSION, a landmark production from Manchester starring performers with experience of homelessness. Bach’s ST MATTHEW PASSION brought to life as a fully-staged opera.

This abridged version of Bach’s iconic oratorio ST MATTHEW PASSION was staged in the historical surrounds of Manchester’s Campfield Market. The Passion narrative is extended beyond Jesus’s death, to his resurrection - with an added closing chorus commissioned from Scottish composer James MacMillan.




Streetwise Opera is an award-winning charity that aims to help people who have experienced homelessness make positive changes in their lives through the arts, and music in particular. The project required two years of preparation and workshops: participants were provided with a safe, regular, inclusive and sociable space where they were able to be creative, try new things and enjoy themselves.

In collaboration with The Sixteen, an ensemble widely renowned for their interpretations of early English polyphonic music as well as Renaissance and Baroque repertoire, Streetwise Opera’s THE PASSION offers a new in-depth vision of Bach’s classic masterpiece: Director Penny Woolcock reminds us of Jesus’s vulnerability and the universality of his fate.

Little is known with certainty about the creation process of the original ST MATTHEW PASSION. It was performed for the first time in 1727 in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach worked for most of his life. The oratorio was to be performed originally before and after the sermon of the Good Friday service. The libretto combines freely composed poetry and hymn verses with chapters 26 and 27 of The Gospel. In the dramatisation of the biblical text, vocal soloists portray Jesus, Pilate, and other individual characters. The Evangelist Saint Matthew takes the role of the narrator. The choruses portray the angry crowd, priests and other officials. As in a Greek tragedy, the chorus steps outside the action and reacts to the story.


Composers - Johann Sebastian Bach, James MacMillan
Libretto - Christian Friedrich Henrici
Music director - Harry Christophers
Director - Penny Woolcock

Available until

12 October 2017 at 23h59 CET
  • passion_cut_3.jpg
  • passion_cut_6.jpg
  • passion_cut_2.jpg
  • passion_cut_4.jpg
  • passion_cut_5.jpg
  • passion_cut_7.jpg


The Opera Platform presents Bach – THE PASSION from Streetwise Opera. Starting 13 April 2017 at 19h00 CET, the opera will be available as video on demand.


This opera is a full-length performance offered in addition to our regular programme. Subtitles in six languages will not be provided.
Streetwise Opera: The Passion

Streetwise | THE PASSION - Trailer

Streetwise Opera and The Sixteen present a staged version of Bach’s SAINT MATTHEW PASSION in the unusual setting of a covered market in the north of England.
Streetwise Opera: The Passion

Streetwise Opera| THE PASSION, changing lives

‘I come to bring the goodness out in myself.’ A short and touching introduction to THE PASSION in which the participants from Streetwise Opera talk about what the project has meant to them.
Streetwise Opera: The Passion

Streetwise Opera | THE PASSION, as viewed by The Sixteen

The Sixteen are known internationally for their performances of sacred and Renaissance music. Harry Christopher, their founder and conductor, introduces this abridged version of Johann Sebastian Bach’s SAINT MATTHEW PASSION.
Streetwise Opera: The Passion

Streetwise Opera | THE PASSION’s relevance today

Penny Woolcock, director, introduces this unusual approach to a staging of Johann Sebastian Bach’s ST MATTHEW PASSION. The work is a journey from Jesus Christ’s crucifixion to his resurrection, with a final chorus written by Scottish composer James MacMillan.