Italian inauguration of the 16th Misteria Paschalia Festival

Tuesday 16 April 2019

The Polish premiere of La Passione secondo Giovanni by Gaetano Veneziano — a Neapolitan mid-Baroque composer – kickstarted the 16th edition of the Misteria Paschalia Festival (15-22 April) in the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria yesterday. This was not an accident, since this time Italian music is the main theme of the festival, and Antonio Florio, our Resident Artistic Director, showed us the first secrets of that art.

Florio is an outstanding figure in the world of historical performance – together with his Cappella Neapolitana ensemble (known as Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini until 2016), he explores the music of the southern Italian Baroque, often making breakthrough musicological discoveries. One of them is the late-17th century La Passione by Veneziano, like the work by Alessandro Scarlatti, which was based on the same evangelical text, is one of the few examples of Italian Passions composed before Bach. We heard it in a masterful, extremely stylish performance of the aforementioned Cappella Neapolitana ensemble (strings, theorbo, harpsichord, organ), the Polish Radio Choir (Aleksandra Krzywdzińska, Magdalena Pikuła, Andrzej Zawisza, featuring Marek Kaczmarczyk as St Peter) and soloists: tenor Luca Cervoni (Jesus), bass Marco Bussi (Pilate) and the narrator of the work, Dalma Krajnyak (Evangelist), who wields a strong and noble alto. The artists suggestively emphasised the musical rhetoric of the work, such as the descending motif in the scene of the denial of St Peter, as well as dissonances (or rather intentionally false notes) when the mocking plaque on Jesus’ cross – Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews – is mentioned.


In addition to the main stream of the festival – Vanità – the organisers have also planned a series of evening concerts in the Sensibilità stream. The first one of them was yesterday’s performance of O dolce amor Yesù, which took place in the Church of the Holy Cross, and during which the world-renowned Micrologus ensemble specialising in music from the 12th-15th centuries presented the mediaeval laudes (Part I: Penance and Prayer, Part II: Passion, Part III: Resurrection). The characteristic sound of this very emotional and suggestive performance is due to the original instruments, which included: natural trumpets, piffero, flauto doppio, cornamusa, cennamella, harp, viola, lute and percussion instruments. The ensemble’s study of the historical background also significantly affected the atmosphere. Strong, lively vocals (Patrizia Bovi, Simone Sorini, Enea Sorini and Guglielmo Buonsanti), elements of choreography and stage design, emotional bluntness of lyrics – all these elements made up this undoubtedly memorable evening.


Today, we would like to invite you to a programme of arias and overtures for Metastasio’s libretto  La passione di Gesù Cristo performed by the contralto Sonia Prina and {oh!} Orkiestra Historyczna led by Martyna Pastuszka (Church of St Catherine of Alexandria, 7:00 p.m.), followed by Alfabeto falso interpreted by the I Bassifondi ensemble and theorbist Simone Vallerotonda (Church of the Holy Cross, 10:00 p.m.)