General information
Title CZŘecké pašije, 2. verze
Subtitle CZopera o 4 dějstvích
Title ENThe Greek Passion, 2nd version
Subtitle ENOpera in 4 acts
Title DEGriechische Passion, zweite Fassung
Subtitle DEOper in vier Aufzügen
CategoryStage Works and Film Music
Halbreich number372 II
Solo voiceFlauto dolce S, A, T; Cl; Fisarm; Vl (na scéně/on stage)
List of charactersKaterina (S / mS), Lenio (S), Manolios (T), Yannakos (T), Michelis (T), Panait (T), Nikolio (T), Grigoris (BBar), Patriarcheus (BBar) [called Archon in the first version], Fotis (BBar), Kostandis (B), Andonis (T), Dimitri (Bar), Ladas (Sp), several smaller patrs, boy choir, 2 mixed choirs [few smaller roles are missing in comparison with the 1st version - the Captain and the Schoolmaster in the 1st act, Dimitri in the 3rd act, narrator]
Place of compositionSchönenberg - Pratteln
Place of composition 2Nice
Year of origin1959
Initiation of composition02/1958
Completion of composition15.01.1959
First performance
Performer Borst, Heinz
Graf, Herbert
Kerns, Robert
Otto, Teo
Pease, James
Peterson, Glade
Sacher, Paul
Warfield, Sandra
Date of the first performance09.06.1961
Location of the first performanceZurich, Switzerland
Note on the first performancePaul Sacher (cond.), Herbert Graf (direction), Teo Otto (scenography), Sandra Warfield (Katerina), Glade Peterson (Manolios), Robert Kerns (Kostandis), Heinz Borst (Fotis), James Pease (Grigoris)
Ensemble Chor des Stadttheaters Zürich, Chor des Stadttheaters Luzern
Luzerner Theater
Opernhaus Zürich
Autograph deposition
InstitutionVienna City Library
OwnerUniversal Edition
Note on the autograph depostitionIncomplete fair copy with corrections, sketch of the 1st scene of the 1st act and various fragments held by the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel.
CopyrightUniversal Edition, Vienna
Purchase linkbuy
Universal Edition, Vienna, 1967
Call number at the BM Institute: 1193b
Specification of the edition: Vocal score
Details of this edition
Universal Edition, 1993
Call number at the BM Institute: 1193c
Specification of the edition: Vocal score with English text
Details of this edition
Universal Edition, 1999
Call number at the BM Institute: 1193
Specification of the edition: Reedition of the 1st edition of the score, copyright 1961
Details of this edition
References Related writings
Documents in the Library
Note Libretto (in English) by B. Martinů after Nikos Kazantzakis' novel "Christ Recrucified" (see the 1st version; slightly altered, shortened). *** English translation of the libretto by Brian Large. *** Second, "Zurich" version.
About the composition

Musical theater was one of Martinů's greatest passions and accompanied him literally throughout his life. Already as a child he came to know theatrical operations in his native when he attended rehearsals and performances with his father Ferdinand, an active member of the local amateur Later, as a student at the Prague Conservatory, Martinů frequently attended both of Prague's major opera houses - the National Theater and the New German Theater. These experiences are documented by the composer's drawings in which he parodied scenes from operas he heard - yes, heard, not saw, because his limited financial means sufficed only for a visit to the "blind gallery" from which one could not see the stage. However, Martinů recalled later that this did not bother him in the least because he was always Interested mainly in the music, not in following the (often shabby) libretto. 

Martinů started composing operas shortly after he began to feel sure of his skill as a composer. He wrote his first opera, titled The Soldier and the Dancer, H 162, in 1928 in Paris - a city to which he had come five years beforehand to study with Albert Roussel and where he remained until 1941. Already at that time, in the late 1920s, he set himself a bold goal which he then pursued step by step until his death: to rid opera of "psychological rubbish" and give it an order based on musical logic. His central idea was to supply those components in the development of Czech musical theater that in his opinion the Czech national revival movement had passed by. This is why the catalog of his operas includes opera buffa (The Soldier and the DancerTwice Alexander, H 255, and Mirandolina, H 346), the one-act surrealistic trifle The Knife's Tears, H 169, the opera-film The Three Wishes or The Fickleness of Life, H 175, a modern variant of medieval miracle plays titled Plays about Mary, H 236. the radio operas The Voice of the Forest, H 243, and The Comedy on the Bridge, H 247, the television opera The Marriage, H 341, the opera-ballet The Suburban Theater, H 251, based on the tradition of the commedia dell'arte, the lyrical surrealistic opera-dream Juliette, or The Key to Dreams, H 253, the pastoral television opera What Men Live By, H 336, the surrealistic drama with music anchored in early Baroque Italian operas titled Ariadne, H 370, and the lyrical drama The Greek Passion

The Greek Passion exists today in two complete versions that differ from each other both musically and dramatically. The reason Martino reworked the opera was the rejection of the first version as being too radical first by the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London and then by the Municipal Theater in Zürich and the Viennese publisher Universal Edition. In Its second version the opera was premiered in Zürich in 1961. The firstmore dramatic - version, which the composer dismembered into separate sheets and distributed on various pages, was reconstructed and premiered at the Bregenzer Festspiele in 1999 and released a year later on compact disc. 

Aleš Březina, Bohuslav Martinů: Selected Masterpieces, © 2001 Supraphon Music a.s

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