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More passionate than your reviewer

16 August 2007


From the Bishop of Guildford

Sir, — I was delighted to see last week’s review of the Glyndebourne production of Bach’s St Matthew Passion (Arts, 10 August). I was, however, less than happy with Christopher Landau’s criticisms of the staging of the production.

Musically, the performance I heard was indeed superb. But the setting, in a bleak village schoolroom somewhere in Eastern Europe, after the massacre of its children, was also very powerful. The chorus of grieving parents, led by the travelling troupe of soloists, gave the audience access to contemporary suffering and brought their agony into the Passion of Christ.

It was at times of crisis in the past, such as plague, that communities such as Oberammergau made intercession by performing a Passion.

The sheer fact of a first-class opera production of the St Matthew Passion is itself an intriguing signal of need, even within a secularised culture, to find ways of entering into the Passion afresh through the sufferings of contemporary humanity.

Willow Grange
Woking Road, Jacob’s Well
Guildford GU4 7QS

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