Yesterday I have been to a scenic performance of St. Matthew Passion in St. Peters Church in Leipzig. It was an amazing experience.
Not long ago I have seen a scenic version of St. John‘s Passion in Frankfurt. It captivated due to its enormous quality of the performance. Yesterday the performance took place in a church instead of a concert hall and it was very intimate, as the separation between audience and performers was nearly lifted. The conductor was actually standing behind me. The choir and soloists were walking through the church and also using the gallery, so that was music and action all around you. Only the baroque orchestra was placed in the front. Whereas the front was indeed the side of the church which means that no one was far from the action and no one was excluded. That proximity made the performance very intense.
I must point out an incredible evangelist sung by Sebastian Kohlhepp. One of the best evangelists I have heard so far. I know that I said the same in my review of St. John‘s Passion. Both were brilliant. We had a wonderful Alto Theresa Nelles and also a wonderful Soprano Charlotte Quadt. The rest of the soloists were good but not brilliant. The orchestra (BonnBarock) was very good. The choir (Vox Bona) was mixed. Due to the nature of the performance you cannot compare the overall quality with other choirs. But I can say that some singers had very good voices and especially the older male singers had problems with the high passages of the piece. During the entry choir Vox Bona was supported by the children’s choir of opera Leipzig.
I did not really understand why they left out one of the bass arias and one or two movements. The whole performance lasted three and a half hours, it would have been fifteen minutes more.
Overall, this has been a fantastic experience and a tremendous accomplishment by all participants with a well deserved standing ovation at the end. I only wished the audience would have waited a bit longer with their applause.
I found a piece by Sebastian Kohlhepp on Youtube of St. Matthew Passion, that he did not sing yesterday, because they had another tenor.