St. Matthew Passion
Bach, J. S. / Mendelssohn, F.
“God forbid, children! I feel as if I attended an operatic performance!” according to a contemporary record, that was how a burgher’s elderly wife in Leipzig commented on St. Matthew’s Passion, which was probably first performed on Good Friday 1727. Today’s audiences do not share the rejection of the lady with conservative taste of a long-gone age, but the drama in Johann Sebastian Bach’s monumental second Passion, the story of the sufferings of God’s innocent lamb can be felt and understood in its entirety by listeners of all eras. After the performances in baroque centuries, the Passion, composed for two choirs and two orchestras, was revived at the 1829 production conducted by Felix Mendelssohn. It rose to the status of the most sacred masterpieces in the history of music already in the 19th century. Bach research and the old music movement have brought us even closer to St. Matthew’s Passion in the past decades, and our admiration has probably grown as a result of our wider knowledge. László Somfai’s words, therefore, do not apply to musicologists only: “Getting deeper in the message of St. Matthew’s Passion, discover even more about the relationship of word and music, and understand the thoughts hidden behind the musical notes more clearly – it is a programme for a lifetime.”
Mendelssohn’s arrangement will be performed for the first time by the Hungarian State Opera, a performance also accompanied by pioneering visual experience.