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.