In 2016, we performed The Passion, a major new opera and a landmark site-specific production for Easter, 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 had 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.
To re-ignite The Sixteen’s relationship with Streetwise Opera, in 2019 a number of Genesis Sixteen alumni observed Streetwise Opera workshops to shadow and learn from their animateurs, as well as meeting the participants so that they felt confident when delivering future sessions. This then developed further when a number of Genesis alumni performed pop up performances across various Streetwise Opera locations (in London, Manchester and Nottingham) and then assisted in workshops with people who have experienced homelessness.
Over a six-week project, during A Journey of Flight, Genesis singers attended workshops and supported Streetwise Opera in their learning and interpretation of Eric Whitacre’s Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machine. This was then performed at Sounds Sublime Festival and in front of Da Vinci’s drawings at the Queen’s Gallery.