Opera Scotland

Matthew Passion Saint Matthew Passion; Matthäus-Passion

Music

Johann Sebastian Bach (born Eisenach 1685; died Leipzig 1750)

Text

Christian Friedrich Henrici ('Picander')

Source

Liturgy (New Testament): largely from the Gospel According to Saint Matthew

 

Premieres

First Performance: Leipzig (), 11 April 1729.

First Performance in UK: London (Hanover Square Rooms), 2 April 1854.

First Performance in Scotland: tbc.

 

Backgrtound

Bach's Matthew Passion is widely regarded as the greatest oratorio ever created. It has sometimes been staged in operatic form, though that hardly adds significantly to the effect it makes in concert performance. During the first decades of its modern revival, from the mid-19th through to the mid-20th centuries, it was usually performed on quite a large scale, with a big orchestra and a mighty chorus.

The traditional method of performance has been to have one solo tenor as the narrator (Evangelist) with a solo bass representing Jesus. All the other characters have been taken by solo soprano, alto, tenor and bass, who have taken turns to sing the arias. The population in the drama, and the congregation,are represented by the massed choir who sing the dramatic choruses and more reflective chorales.

More recently, research into period performance has allowed a more intimate style of presentation to become accepted, even with the big choruses and chorales performed with one singer to a vocal line. Those singers can then participate in the drama, repesenting the various characters and singing the arias. In any style, when performed with conviction, the work makes a tremendous emotional impact. However, it may be that in future the large-scale form of presentation will largely disappear.

 

Characters

Evangelist, the narrator (tenor)

Christus - Jesus (bass)

Petrus (Peter), Judas, Priest, Pilatus (Pilate) (basses)

Maid, Pilate's Wife (sopranos)

Soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists for arias.

The Cast

Alto
 
Alto 1
 
Alto 2
 
Bass
 
Bass 1
 
Bass 2
 
Evangelist
 
Jesus
 
Petrus
 Peter
Pilatus
 Pilate
Soprano
 
Soprano 1
 
Soprano 2
 
Tenor
 
Tenor 1
 
Tenor 2
 

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