Passion oratorios at the Misteria Paschalia Festival

Thursday 31 January 2019

Intimate and poignant traditional Passion songs in the Italian and Neapolitan languages – that is what the upcoming 16th edition of the Misteria Paschalia Festival will be all about. Compositions referring to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ will be an important staple of this year’s programme. The church of St Catherine of Alexandria and the Church of the Holy Cross will resound with the works by the greatest Italian artists, such as Gaetano Veneziano, Pietro Antonio Domenico Trapassi and Giaches de Wert.

Dalma Krajnyák’s soft ostinato and matte alto singing “Passio, Passio Domini nostri Iesu Christi,” with the Evangelist soon after joined by Christ and other dramatis personae, all accompanied by Cappella Neapolitana led by Antonio Florio will mark the beginning of the first concert of the Misteria Paschalia Festival. On 15 April at 7:00 p.m. the nave of the church of St Catherine of Alexandria will be filled with the sounds of the 17th-century St John Passion by Neapolitan composer Gaetano Veneziano. The theme of the Passion will connect the subsequent days of the festival, until Holy Saturday, when St Kinga’s Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine will host the tenor Pino De Vittorio and the Laboratorio ‘600 ensemble, completing a circle and coming back to the south of Italy – the musicians will perform Lu Cuntu de la Passiuni, or traditional Passion songs in the Italian and Neapolitan languages. It is going to be a very intimate and poignant programme, also (or, perhaps, primarily) thanks to the artists – hardly anybody is able to build the atmosphere during the concert as much as Pino De Vittorio, whose every slightest gesture and grimace are significant, whose voice can express sadness, mockery and laughter, as well as tell all the stories, even the most tragic ones.

Pietro Antonio Domenico Trapassi, much better known under his pseudonym – Metastasio – was also a master of the story. This perhaps the most important librettist of the 18th century, whose works were used by Johann Adolph Hasse, Antonio Caldara and Leonardo Vinci, wrote not only texts for opere serie and cantatas, but also for oratorios, including La passione di Gesù Cristo signor nostro. Since 1730, when the first performance of this azione sacra, featuring music by Antonio Caldara took place, the text has enjoyed a respectable recognition: until the second decade of the 19th century and was used by more than half a hundred composers. No wonder that countertenor Filippo Mineccia decided to build an original programme on the basis of Metastasio’s libretto, in which he will showcase the variety of musical solutions employed over the course of eight decades – from Caldara (Vienna, 1730), through Jommelli’s outstanding composition (Rome, 1749), the classicist Mysliveček (Florence, 1773), to Francesco Morlacchi (Dresden, 1812), the (successful!) propagator of the Italian opera in territories north of the Alps. The Church of St Catherine will host this premiere programme starring Mineccia and {oh!} Orkiestra Historyczna, an ensemble of 18th-century music experts, led by violinist Martyna Pastuszka.

Naples, Vienna, Rome, Florence, Dresden – but also Mantua and Ferrara – probably the most important music centres of the late Renaissance. That is where Giaches de Wert, a composer of Franco-Flemish origin, who became Italian by choice, created his outstanding works. His thoroughly formally innovative St Mark Passion (for the second half of the 16th century, of course) – a truly moving work, will be performed by Voces Suaves and Concerto Scirocco on Holy Wednesday (17 April) at the Church of the Holy Cross. The Swiss artists prepared a special premiere programme for the Misteria Paschalia Festival, in which the Passion was enriched with madrigals and instrumental compositions by de Wert’s contemporaries, including Luca Marenzio, who was associated with the Krakow and Warsaw royal courts, thus building an intimate, but rich oratorio of the Passion of Christ.


Tickets and passes for the 16th edition of the Misteria Paschalia Festival can be purchased on Krakow Festival Office’s website, at InfoKraków Tourist Information Points and on