General information
Title CZŘecké pašije
Subtitle CZopera o 4 dějstvích – 1. verze
Title ENThe Greek Passion
Subtitle ENOpera in 4 acts – 1st version
Title DEGriechische Passion
Subtitle DEOper in vier Aufzügen – erste Fassung
CategoryStage Works and Film Music
Halbreich number372 I
Solo voiceFlauto dolce S, A, T; Cl; Fisarm; Vl (na scéně/on stage)
List of charactersKaterina (S / mS), Lenio (S), Manolios (T), Yannakos (T), Michelis (T), Panait (T), Nikolio (T), Grigoris (BBar), Archon (BBar), Fotis (BBar), Kostandis (B), Andonis (T), Ladas (Sp), narrator (Sp), 7 smaller patrs, boy choir, 2 mixed choirs
Place of compositionNice
Place of composition 2New York
Year of origin1957
Initiation of composition20.02.1956
Completion of composition01/1957
First performance
Performer Ulf Schirmer (dir./cond.), David Pountney (režie/direction), Stephan Lazaridis (scéna/scenography), Nina Stemme (Katerina), Christopher Ventris (Manolios), Adrian Clarke (Kostandis), Egils Silins (Fotis), Esa Ruuttunen (Grigoris)
Clarke, Adrian
Lazaridis, Stephan
Pountney, David Willoughby
Ruuttunen, Esa
Schirmer, Ulf
Silins, Egils
Stemme, Nina
Ventris, Christopher
Date of the first performance1999-07-20
Location of the first performanceBregenz, Austria
Ensemble Wiener Symphoniker, Moscow Chamber Choir, Bregenz Musikhauptschule Children's Choir
Autograph deposition
InstitutionPaul Sacher Stiftung
Deposition locationBasel
OwnerPaul Sacher Stiftung, Basel
Note on the autograph depostitionFragments of the autograph score. *** Other fragments held by the UE Wien. Sketches and two fragments of the autograph score are located at the Bohuslav Martinů Centre in Polička.
CopyrightUniversal Edition, Vienna
Purchase linkbuy
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Libretto (in English) by B. Martinů after Nikos Kazantzakis' novel "Christ Recrucified" (Nice, August 1954 - October 1955, New York, November 1955 - January 1956). *** Greek translation by Christina Lazaridi (2004). *** First, "London" version. *** Dates and places of the composition - 1st and 2nd act: New York, 20.02.1956 - Schönenberg, 28.07.1956; 3rd act: Schönenberg, August 1956 - November 1956; 4rd act: Rome, November 1956 - January 1957. *** Reconstructed by Aleš Březina.
About the composition

Musical theater was one of Martinů's greatest passions and accompanied him literally throughout his life. Already as a child he came to know theatrical operations in his native when he attended rehearsals and performances with his father Ferdinand, an active member of the local amateur Later, as a student at the Prague Conservatory, Martinů frequently attended both of Prague's major opera houses - the National Theater and the New German Theater. These experiences are documented by the composer's drawings in which he parodied scenes from operas he heard - yes, heard, not saw, because his limited financial means sufficed only for a visit to the "blind gallery" from which one could not see the stage. However, Martinů recalled later that this did not bother him in the least because he was always Interested mainly in the music, not in following the (often shabby) libretto. 

Martinů started composing operas shortly after he began to feel sure of his skill as a composer. He wrote his first opera, titled The Soldier and the Dancer, H 162, in 1928 in Paris - a city to which he had come five years beforehand to study with Albert Roussel and where he remained until 1941. Already at that time, in the late 1920s, he set himself a bold goal which he then pursued step by step until his death: to rid opera of "psychological rubbish" and give it an order based on musical logic. His central idea was to supply those components in the development of Czech musical theater that in his opinion the Czech national revival movement had passed by. This is why the catalog of his operas includes opera buffa (The Soldier and the DancerTwice Alexander, H 255, and Mirandolina, H 346), the one-act surrealistic trifle The Knife's Tears, H 169, the opera-film The Three Wishes or The Fickleness of Life, H 175, a modern variant of medieval miracle plays titled Plays about Mary, H 236. the radio operas The Voice of the Forest, H 243, and The Comedy on the Bridge, H 247, the television opera The Marriage, H 341, the opera-ballet The Suburban Theater, H 251, based on the tradition of the commedia dell'arte, the lyrical surrealistic opera-dream Juliette, or The Key to Dreams, H 253, the pastoral television opera What Men Live By, H 336, the surrealistic drama with music anchored in early Baroque Italian operas titled Ariadne, H 370, and the lyrical drama The Greek Passion

The Greek Passion exists today in two complete versions that differ from each other both musically and dramatically. The reason Martino reworked the opera was the rejection of the first version as being too radical first by the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London and then by the Municipal Theater in Zürich and the Viennese publisher Universal Edition. In Its second version the opera was premiered in Zürich in 1961. The firstmore dramatic - version, which the composer dismembered into separate sheets and distributed on various pages, was reconstructed and premiered at the Bregenzer Festspiele in 1999 and released a year later on compact disc. 

Aleš Březina, Bohuslav Martinů: Selected Masterpieces, © 2001 Supraphon Music a.s

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