A new mounting of Rappresentazione della Passione (The Passion of Christ), an Abruzzo mystery play directed and adapted by Antonio Calenda, opens tomorrow, Apr. 4 in the magnificent setting of L'Aquila's Medieval Church of Santa Maria di Collemaggio.
The Passion of Christ, performed for the first time in modern times in 1978, is part of a collection of Abruzzo mystery plays of medieval origin, compiled in 1576 by Maria Jacoba Fioria, a nun from Chieti. The original manuscript was found in 1886 in a private library in Sulmona, Central Italy, and is now preserved in Rome's National Library (codex V.E. 361).
Set in an Italian village during the dark days of World War II, Calenda's mounting is designed to play in unconventional theatrical spaces, such as churches, monasteries, cloisters, etc.. Vatican City's Commission for the Jubilaeum of the Year 2000 granted the show official recognition and will include it in its exclusive programme.
Playing the role of Mary is the award winning actress Piera Degli Esposti, whose recent credits include Brecht's Mother Courage and Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus. Other principals include Maximilian Nisi (Jesus Christ), Giampiero Fortebraccio (Judas), and Giancarlo Cortesi (Caifas).
A co-production between L'Aquila's Teatro Stabile Abruzzese and Trieste's Teatro Stabile del Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the show features sets and costumes by Bruno Buonincontri (who reproduced the original sketches by Francescangelo Ciarletta and Ambra Danon) and music by Germano Mazzocchetti. The original production of The Passion of Christ, starring Elsa Merlini, toured extensively for over five seasons in Italy and abroad, enjoying highly successful runs in Rome's Church of Sant'Andrea Della Valle, as well as in New York, Toronto, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.
The show will run in L'Aquila thru Apr. 10 and is scheduled to tour for the next two seasons. A full-year residence in Rome is planned for the year 2000. For further information call Teatro Stabile Abruzzese at +39 862 62.946.
--By Stefano Curti