Quarantine with The Sixteen: Archive Performances

27/04/2020

Over the Easter weekend we replayed two of our most memorable performances; the world premiere of Sir James MacMillan’s Stabat mater, and our immersive version of Bach’s iconic St Matthew Passion in collaboration with Streetwise Opera.

On 22 April 2018, audiences around the world watched the performance of James MacMillan’s Stabat mater from the Sistine Chapel. The concert was a rare honour, bestowed on the Genesis Foundation, as few performances are given in the Sistine Chapel and even fewer are given by ensembles not based in the Vatican. It was the first ever concert to be live-streamed from the Sistine Chapel and The Sixteen became the first professional British choir to sing there in over 20 years.

In 2016, we performed The Passion, a landmark site-specific production for Easter in collaboration with Streetwise Opera and in association with Manchester’s international centre for contemporary visual art, theatre and film, HOME.

In the historical surrounds of Campfield Market, an abridged version of Bach’s iconic oratorio St Matthew Passion was brought to life as an immersive fully-staged opera. This contemporary promenade performance guided audience members around Manchester’s much-loved Victorian hall, with a vibrant cast comprising both The Sixteen and performers who have experienced homelessness from Streetwise Opera Manchester.

Following the last two days of Jesus’s life, The Passion’s confrontational narrative was contrasted by the beauty and exultation of its score. Penny Woolcock’s direction saw multiple performers playing the leading role as a poignant reminder of Jesus’s vulnerability and universality. The production featured a new ‘resurrection’ finale which has been jointly written by Streetwise Opera’s performers and celebrated composer Sir James MacMillan. Bleak images were followed by glimmers of hope in The Passion’s joyous closing chorus.