Vanità, or poignant depictions of the Passion of Christ

Friday 8 February 2019

Musical theatre, emblematic composers, a great deal of mystery – if we tried to enclose three consecutive concerts of the Misteria Paschalia Festival in short résumés (or maybe better: riassunti), these would be the most apt. But in no way does this mean that they are exhaustive – they only give a taste of what awaits us on Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

On Holy Wednesday (17 April), Capella Cracoviensis will perform with a Polish–Italian repertoire. Jan Tomasz Adamus, the artistic boss of the ensemble, has from the very beginning of his work with them put emphasis on the Polish musical heritage, and in the 16th and 17th centuries, it was closely intertwined with Italian music. The presence of Italian artists at the royal court of kings of Poland and their overwhelming influence on the local composers will be presented in the In monte Oliveti concert, the title of which refers directly to a work by Mikołaj Zieleński. Pater, si fieri potest, transeat a me calix iste, Christ had a moment of doubt in the Gethsemane. Fiat voluntas tua, he finally said to His Father. And between human nature and God’s mission, there will be a concert by the Krakow ensemble, filled with the music of Zieleński, Bartłomiej Pękiel and Asprilio Pacelli, the conductor of the royal band. In addition, it will be presented in the form of a musical theatre, making use of the magnificent acoustics of the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria and the enchanting invention from La Serenissima – polychoral effects.

Maundy Thursday promises to be truly great, thanks to the three most eminent 18th-century representatives of three Italian schools: Venetian, Bolognese and Neapolitan. In the Theatre Hall of the ICE Kraków Congress Centre, we will hear a fervent confession of faith in Antonio Vivaldi’s Credo, an ascetic and painful Stabat Mater sequence by Antonio Maria Bononcini, and finally the eight-voice Miserere by Leonardo Leo, one of the best Italian versions of Psalm 51 from 1739 (and, after all, Gregorio Allegri had already set the bar incredibly high a century earlier!). Three outstanding works, three emblematic composers, four excellent soloists and two ensembles – under the sure hand of Rinaldo Alessandrini, Krakow’s chamber choir Cracow Singers will join forces with renowned interpreters of the Italian music of Seicento and Settecento: Concerto Italiano.

Tristes erant Apostoli – an incipit from the Ambrosian anthem will serve as the title of the Good Friday concert at the ICE Kraków Congress Centre. The apostles were bereaved at the news of the cruel martyrdom and death of their Teacher, but the evening’s programme was not built only around suffering, but also hope for the Resurrection. The evening will be devoted to the almost unknown contemporary work of Antonio Nola. Although there is little known about the mysterious composer from Naples, this lack of information is compensated by numerous and high-quality manuscripts of his works, some of which will be presented in Krakow for the first time in almost four hundred years. Premiere performances of Nola’s works will be presented by the residents of this year’s Misteria Paschalia Festival: Cappella Neapolitana and Antonio Florio, and with them five great soloists, including Krakow soprano Anna Zawisza.