Today is the day for the inaugural concert of the 16th Misteria Paschalia Festival

Monday 15 April 2019

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Naples used to be one of the most important centres of musical culture in the contemporary world, powered both by the patronage of royalty, aristocracy and archbishops, as well as a celebration-filled calendar and work of four conservatories – a unique invention at the time, based on… orphanages – which educated countless musicians.

Among them was Gaetano Veneziano, whose Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem will be performed at the inauguration of the festival. The work, recently discovered in the collections of one of the Neapolitan archives, was restored to contemporary listeners by Antonio Florio, proving that in artistic terms it is no less than Alessandro Scarlatti’s famous Passion, composed to illustrate the same text from the Gospels. The Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria will host outstanding soloists: Dalma Krajnyak, Luca Cervoni, Marco Bussi, Cappella Neapolitana and the Polish Radio Choir, with Antonio Florio standing behind the conductor’s pulpit.

During the remaining days of the festival, in the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria and the Church of the Holy Cross, as well as the secular interiors of the ICE Kraków Congress Centre, outstanding Polish and Italian artists will perform masterpieces from Naples, Rome, Venice, Milan, Ferrara and Modena. The programme, developed by maestro Antonio Florio, founder and artistic director of Cappella Neapolitana, an ensemble specialising in the early music of Southern Italy , in collaboration with the Krakow Festival Office will not only take music lover on an educational journey presenting the specificity of various artistic centres, as well as the vast variety of shades of Italian art related to the Holy Week and Easter.
“We are honoured by the perspective of working together with such a recognised conductor, renowned for his great artistic achievements,” says Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of the City of Kraków. “Antonio Florio, an Italian expert, guarantees the highest quality of all performances. “He is an outstanding conductor who is famous for his perfectionist, historical approach to the presented works, as well as his great passion for Neapolitan music.”

Walking through the historical part of Krakow, you can see and smell Italy at almost every single step. The influences are ubiquitous, especially visible in Renaissance and Baroque architecture, but also great coffee and unhurried way of life – andante or even lento. A few centuries ago the Italian presence was even more pronounced in this city – a queen from the Sforza family from Milan, Baltazar Fontana, who left his outstanding stuccos in the city, Bartolommeo Berrecci, who together with a group of Italian architects moved a piece of Florence to Wawel Hill… The echoes of Italy could also be clearly heard in the music performed by the royal ensemble from the first half of the 16th century, while Polish composers were published in Venice, the musical centre of the printing world. Today, when Europe has again become open and almost without borders, we consider such a creative exchange to be our duty – and a great pleasure. Therefore, the 2019 Misteria Paschalia Festival will focus on the Italian musical heritage to remind everybody that Krakow used to be the Florence of the North.

“The festival will serve as an opportunity to go on an extraordinary journey across Europe – all thanks to music,” announced Izabela Helbin, director of the Krakow Festival Office. “For the third time, we are going to take advantage of the new festival’s formula, based on inviting outstanding directors in residence and entrusting them with programming, as well as the festival’s artistic shape and form.”

“I’m very happy that I will be working in this great and fascinating city,” says Antonio Florio, Aritstic Resident Director of the 2019 Misteria Paschalia Festival. “Misteria Paschalia is a world-famous event dedicated to the music of the Holy Week. This time it will be the Holy Week of Italy and all its regions: Campania, Sicily, Lazio, Northern Italy.”

The main series of concerts of the Misteria Paschalia Festival entitled Vanità revolves around the moving depictions of the Passion of the Christ. A day after the inaugural concert, at the same venue, a selection of compositions based on Pietro Metastasio’s text La Passione di Gesù Cristo Signor Nostro, which has enjoyed enormous popularity for almost a hundred years, will be presented by {oh!} Orkiestra Historyczna and Sonia Prina – contralto. The extremely emotional programme Lu Cuntu de la Passiuni, comprising songs from Southern Italy, which are at the contact point between classical and traditional music, also refers directly to the Passion. In the amazing scenery of St Kinga’s Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the songs will be sung by a charismatic tenor, Pino De Vittorio, accompanied by the Laboratorio ‘600 ensemble, led by lutenist Franco Pavan (Holy Saturday, 20 April at 8:00 p.m.).

Reflections on the Passion of the Christ will also be presented by: Capella Cracoviensis, which prepared a programme presenting the close artistic and stylistic ties connecting Polish and Italian composers at the turn of the 17th century that will be presented on Holy Wednesday (7:00 p.m. at the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria); Rinaldo Alessandrini, who will lead Concerto Italiano and Cracow Singers in the striking compositions by Antonio Vivaldi, Leonardo Leo and Antonio Maria Bononcini (Maundy Thursday at 8:00 p.m., ICE Kraków Congress Centre – Theatre Hall), as well as Antonio Florio and Cappella Neapolitana in a première performance of Antonio Nola’s works extracted from the vast Neapolitan archives, especially for the Misteria Paschalia Festival (Good Friday at 8 p.m., Krzysztof Penderecki Auditorium Hall at ICE Kraków). The week will be crowned by a true explosion of joy – the concert entitled Festa Napoletana with arias and duets from cantatas and operas buffa – we are in not only for some phenomenal interpretations, but also accents taken from the commedia dell’arte, a genre deeply rooted in Italian tradition. The joy will be all the greater, since the stage of the ICE Kraków Congress Centre will feature soprano Roberta Invernizzi and – once again – Pino De Vittorio, two experts specialising in Italian Baroque and two unparalleled stage personalities. The soloists will be accompanied by Cappella Neapolitana, who, under the baton of the festival’s Artistic Resident Director will compete with singers, showcasing their musical mastery.

The programme of the festival would not be complete without the atmospheric late-night concerts (starting at 10 p.m.), which in 2019 will be hosted in the Church of the Holy Cross. The unusual architecture of the temple (the only example of a palm vault in Krakow!) will serve as the scenery of three events comprising the Sensibilità series, presenting the warm, emotional dimension of the relationship between humans and God. Such an approach will be presented by Micrologus in a programme filled with tender mediaeval laudations (Holy Monday) and the combined forces of the Voces Suaves vocal ensemble and instrumentalists of Concerto Scirocco ensemble in a chamber polychoral Passio secundum Marcus by Giaches de Wert, a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance, who created his works in Italy (Holy Wednesday). The crazy instrumental I Bassifondi trio will play Alfabeto falso – the false alphabet, or a series of dances from a treatise with Girolamo Montesardo’s guitar tablatures published at the beginning of the 17th century. An intimate evening on Holy Tuesday in the Church of the Holy Cross will be devoted to joint music-making and the art of improvisation on surprising instruments – theorbo, colascione, Baroque guitar and percussion instruments.

“We are very excited about the renewal of the important partnership between Mezzo and the Misteria Paschalia Festival for the next year,” says Christophe Winckel, CEO of Mezzo TV. “This festival, presenting international achievements in early music, is also going to offer some exceptional concerts next year, reflecting the vitality of this genre. Mezzo will record and broadcast several of these performances which, together with the concerts recorded during the two previous editions, will illustrate the excellence of this festival over the years.”

The 2019 edition of the Misteria Paschalia Festival will not be limited only to concerts. Thanks to the cooperation with such renowned individuals and institutions as musicologist Dinko Fabris, lecturer at conservatories in Bari and Naples, Nazionale Conservatorio di Musica from Vatican, Italian Cultural Institute in Krakow or the Institute of Musicology of the Jagiellonian University, the organisers of the festival – the City of Krakow and the Krakow Festival Office – will bring Italian traditions and cultural heritage closer to the audience and offer a series of educational events showcasing the beauty and complexity of Italian music of the past centuries and its wide circulation in Europe, with particular emphasis on its reception in Poland. While walking around Krakow during the Misteria Paschalia Festival, you will be able to feel Italy at every step!