The Greek Passion, Royal Opera House, London
By Andrew Clark
Published: September 17 2004 03:00 | Last updated: September 17 2004 03:00
All human life is here: prayer and pageant, self-sacrifice and self-righteousness, humour and hypocrisy, feast and famine.
Opera often deals with extremes of human nature but it is not usually as close to the bone as The Greek Passion, nor does it make us feel so complicit or complacent.
In Martinu's richly musicked theatrical parable, we are initially invited to identify with Manolios, the Christ-figure in the village passion play, who inhabits his role to the point of giving up his life for refugees seeking food and shelter.
But by the end Martinu makes us realise we are more likely to be the cowards and hypocrites who reject the incomers.
When The Greek Passion was taken into the Royal Opera's repertoire in 2000, it emerged as a masterpiece of moral self-examination. Now, on its first revival, the effect is even more overwhelming.
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