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Kent Nagano © Dominik Oldenkirchen. Courtesy Hamburgische Staatsoper

Premiere of "La Passione" to Open Musikfest Hamburg 2016

In April 2016, the Hall for Contemporary Art at Deichtorhallen will form the backdrop for a strikingly visual musical production with an all-star lineup

Staged by Romeo Castellucci, one of the foremost theatre artists in Europe, and with the Hamburg-based music director Kent Nagano, this unusual performance by the Hamburg State Opera in collaboration with the Deichtorhallen Hamburg will celebrate its premiere on 21 April 2016, and thus officially open the International Music Fest Hamburg

The Interaction of Arts

In his intensely visual and sonic performances between theatre, installations, and performance, the internationally renowned artist Romeo Castellucci has increasingly explored interactions between image and viewer, between depiction and the impossibility of representation, and between the power of images to convey meaning and identity in our Western culture in recent year. In 2013, Castellucci was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for his life’s work.

World-Class Soloists

The unusual Bach project “La Passione” (Saint Matthew Passion) also features a first-class lineup of soloists: Ian Bostridge as Saint John the Evangelist, sopranos Hayoung Lee and Christina Gansch, alto Dorottya Láng, tenor Bernard Richter, and bass Philippe Sly as Jesus. The Audi Youth Choir Academy will be
conducted by Martin Steidler. The premiere of La Passione will also mark the opening of the second Hamburg International Music Festival.

source and further details:

Information and reservations: +49 40 / 35 68 68 (Hamburg State Opera),
Ticket prices: 132, 109, 87, 48, 20 euro
Premiere on Thursday, 21 April 2016, at 8:00 p.m. at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg.
Ticket reservations:””:

Romeo Castellucci on his production

“The production calls for a set that is based on the optical instrument of the eye. The famous scenes that Matthew describes in his Gospel appear iconographically on the retina, but with one distinctive aspect: all the scenes are seen from behind, and they are given a pronounced blur effect. The viewers are invited to simultaneously see and not see what the text and the music express. They recognize the image of the human being before them, but at the same time they are denied this image. The figures of the Evangelists are always seen from behind; the Sanhedrin is seen from behind, as is the cross and everything else. We can see everything, but only from a great distance and also only from the back.

We are in the same room, but excluded from the action. Or we are in the middle of the action, just like the king and queen in the painting Las Meninas by Velázquez, and we ourselves are part of the depiction of the Passion of Christ. Like a picture, we cannot look at it, since we are part of it. We are Romans, Jews, Apostles. We are characters. This necessarily results in a question with theological consequences: Can we, as viewers today, endure the sight of Christ’s suffering as described by Matthew, or not? Or is it this very god that has turned its back on humanity? No answer to these questions can be discerned in the performance, and the reason is simple: it can all be easily cast in doubt.

Over the course of the performances, the viewers will gradually lose even the very minimal visual contact to what they see, or to what they believe they see. The Biblical characters dissolve and give way to the nebulous figures of light and smoke. The figures from the Saint Matthew Passion disappear like delicate watercolors on which a bucket of water has been poured. Everything fades, becomes unreal, inexistent, and in its place a space for imagination and contemplation of the music opens up.

Christ’s image itself becomes as weak as can be: a nebulous trace, irrevocably erased, seen from behind; a sign of the fragility of divinity or, once again, the human ability to see the divine. But all this is only a paradoxical sign of the indomitable power of this very weakness.”

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