Another Passion excerpt

Here’s a new, recently-released excerpt from Alberto’s Passion According to St. John, performed April 25-26th of this year. It’s the finale. I’ve also inserted it into my original excerpts post, so they’ll all be in one place.

If you were a fund contributor and wonder where your recording is, they are still waiting on someone who promised to help them do the job. And that person too has a job. This is the way things happen in Italy sometimes, especially when you don’t have much money, but it will eventually get done!


Passion excerpts

Hi! I said before that I’d post some excerpts from the Passion performances when they became available, so here they are! The first is two minutes from the first chorus. It builds slowly and then bursts into song. The second is excerpts from the entire hour-and-a-half performance, put into a montage. In the second video, you can also see more closeups. Enjoy!

Sept. 15 update: I’ve added another just-released excerpt. It will have its own post, but I’m putting it here too so they’ll all be in one place.

Quick update about the concerts


Baroque ensemble Aurea Armonia in San Filippo Neri today (photo by Aldo Mattea)

After a year of composing, planning, fundraising, and organizating, the Passion concerts for the oratorio Alberto wrote took place this weekend. Baroque ensemble Aurea Armonia (plus a few guest instrumentalists), five soloists, and a choir of 35 performed a Baroque-inspired Easter narrative from the Gospel of John in two Turin churches on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Both performances packed large churches (one the largest in Turin) and received standing ovations. It was really amazing to see this come together, but as you can imagine, everyone is exhausted (in a happy way) and it’s going to take a little while to get photos and videos edited and posted. If you have Facebook, however, you can click the link above and follow the ensemble’s Facebook page, which means you’ll get updates.


Interview about the Passion in Il Bicerin

As I have mentioned here before, Sarie and Alberto have been involved for over a year in producing a Passion oratorio that Alberto composed. Now the time for the performances has finally arrived. The concerts will be held tomorrow evening at 9:00 pm and Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm.

Meanwhile, a local review, Il Bicerin, has written up the project in an interview with Alberto. I shared the article on Facebook, but since more than half of my Facebook friends are English-speakers, the article is in Italian, and a Facebook post is way too short for a translation, I thought I’d put it here instead.

With my apologies to Mr. Gunetti, my translation has taken the liberty of adjusting the formal Italian style a little, so that it reads more like American journalism.

At 22 years old, he writes a Baroque oratorio on The Passion of Christ: An homage to the Shroud of Turin

 The Passion According to St. John is a sacred oratorio for solo, choir and orchestra.

DSC_0204 - Version 2By Andrea Gunetti

Alberto Mattea, probably one of the most multifaceted young artists in Italy (he plays Baroque oboe, composes music and directs films), has composed a musical homage to the Shroud of Turin. It’s a Baroque Passion, like Bach would have written, based on a libretto by Giorgio Enrico Cavallo and taken from the Gospel of John. Two performances of this new sacred oratorio will take place at 9:00pm this Saturday evening and 4:00pm Sunday afternoon.

How did you get the idea to write something as anachronistic as a Baroque Oratorio today?

The project began when the librettist and I were talking and we realized that the Exposition of the Shroud would be the perfect occasion to write something momentous. If the idea seems anachronistic, consider that the Passion is simply the central element in the Catholic Easter liturgy, put to music. It’s true, however, that Passions are rarely composed today, and they are usually heard outside their original sacred context.

How is it structured?

The Baroque Oratorio is traditionally divided into cori, recitativi, arias, and chorales. The text is sung by John the Evangelist (a tenor) who speaks with Christ (a bass), Pilate (a tenor) and the women (sopranos). The arias are reflections on the Passion as sung by Christ, Pilate, Mary Magdalen, and a penitent soul (a countertenor), who contemplate the redemptive suffering of Jesus. The cori and chorales internalize the message of the Evangelist.

It’s interesting that your Passion also includes the Resurrection, but Bach’s don’t. Why is that?

According to Bach’s Protestant vision, the Passion and the Cross represented Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross as the central point of salvation. One also has to consider that Bach’s Passions were meant to be played on Good Friday, a moment of suspension in time during which one contemplates the death of Christ. Speaking of the Resurrection in this context would be out of place. We usually don’t notice this because we listen to the Bach Passions as concert pieces. But in our case, since Easter has already taken place, there’s no reason not to celebrate the Resurrection in music.

These are serious ideas. Do you think the public will appreciate them?

Any artwork, including this one, will receive both appreciation and criticism. Some of this will be objective and some will be according to personal taste, which of course varies. Bach was in his 40s and already a master when he composed his Passions, and I’m only 22. That’s a crushing, unreachable comparison. But the point is this: Our Passion was not intended to be a measuring stick. The main point isn’t how it’s carried out, but instead it’s meant to be personal homage to and meditation on the Man of the Cross.


Bravo, Alberto! I’m so looking forward to hearing the Passion performed this weekend!

Rehearsal video for the Passion


Here’s a little rehearsal video for the Passion project, made last week. The musicians are basically the same as for Sarie and Alberto’s Renaissance group, Suavis Concentus, which will be ready to start performing in the fall. The orchestra for the premiere of the Passion, however, will hopefully be much larger. That’s why they’re fundraising! They have about 40% of their needed funds raised with a month left to go.

Anyway, the video has a sample aria for soprano, Baroque flute, lute and viola da gamba. Alberto, as composer, usually conducts, but here of course he’s holding the camera instead. And who is the soprano? Sarie! This was her first attempt at exposed singing, so she was a bit uncomfortable, but Alberto kept trying to reassure her that she could do it, so eventually she consented. She won’t be the soprano in the premiere, but she did get into the part enough to give me a mock glare and say, “Don’t even try to negotiate with me. I’m a soprano!”

The clip is about a minute long and was filmed in our living room.  Enjoy!


The Passion and Resurrection According to St. John


It’s just after Easter.  So you’d think this wouldn’t be the time to be posting about a Passion, which is an oratorio depicting the events leading up to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.  But actually, it is the right time, because it takes a while to write a good Passion, and this one is for next year.

As you may know, Torino (Turin in both English and Piemontese) is the home of the Holy Shroud, which has obvious links to Easter. Every so often the Shroud is presented publicly, with people coming from all over to see it. Next Easter is to be one of those times, with Pope Francis in attendance and many local organizations planning to commemorate the event in some way. One such organization, the Confraternity of the Shroud, has commissioned Sarie’s boyfriend Alberto to write a Passion in a neo-Baroque style.

In the video, Alberto explains what he has been commissioned to do, how he will do it, and why he accepted the commission. The life of a young musician, especially in Italy, holds abundant opportunities to perform, but many fewer to get paid. As he explains in the video, the performing the Passion will require an orchestra, soloists, and a choir.  He has enough connections that a number of skilled musicians (including Sarie) will perform for free, but he’s still trying to raise enough to at least reimburse their travel expenses and make a quality recording of the performance.

If you or anyone you know would like to help make this project happen, there’s a link in the video for contributions. Feel free to link to this video or share it as well.  They’ll be raising funds for about the next 60 days, and they get a higher percentage of what people contribute if they make their goal.