Gulfshore Opera will present Johann Sebastian Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion for three performances on March 18-20, at venues in Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties during Lent, in anticipation of the Easter season. The production is in collaboration with the Florida Gulf Coast University Chamber Choir, The Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers Chamber Chorus, a core ensemble of eight soloists, and the Gulfshore Opera Orchestra and Chorus.
With this once-in-a-lifetime Lenten experience, Gulfshore Opera will bring the Gospel of Matthew to music through J. S. Bach’s sacred Passion Play. Usually performed as a concert, this production will be staged. Steffanie Pearce, Gulfshore Opera Founder and General Director explained, “The Evangelist, Matthew, will sing from memory in costume and in English, as will Jesus and the other disciples. It will be a sung Passion Play.”
The Saint Matthew Passion requires two choruses and a double orchestra, which is probably why it has not been performed in Southwest Florida, until now. The Saint Matthew Passion is usually performed in large metropolitan areas due to its complexity and the number of artists required. Fortunately for Southwest Florida, Pearce, is an experienced collaborator.
“Gulfshore Opera has many collaborative partners. For this production we are very happy to be working with the FGCU Chamber Choir and the Fort Myers Mastersingers Chamber Choir. Both choirs have been working on their parts for several months,” said Pearce.
Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion was first heard on Good Friday, 1727 in Leipzig, Germany. It is exceptional for its musical richness and its grand scope. Bach wrote his Saint Matthew Passion to present the Passion story in music at Good Friday services. In 1829, it was revived by Felix Mendelssohn, creating renewed interest in Bach that grew throughout the 19th century and still continues. With great drama, Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion retells the story of the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus.
Thomas Glenn will perform the role of narrator, Matthew, the Evangelist. Glenn, a Canadian tenor, brings much experience to this role, having performed it in numerous productions. The role of Jesus will be performed by Colin Ramsey, bass-baritone.
The FGCU Chamber Choir and the Gulfshore Opera Orchestra and Chorus are directed by Dr. Trent Brown of the Bower School of Music and The Arts at FGCU. The Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers Chamber Chorus will be led by Artistic Director, Jeff Faux.
“Performing the Saint Matthew Passion will forever change the lives of the students in the Chamber Choir. It will create an affinity for Bach that will stay with the singers forever. I’m thrilled that Gulfshore Opera is bringing this work to Southwest Florida and involving community groups in collaboration,” said Dr. Brown.
The Gulfshore Opera Orchestra is made up of the best professional musicians from three counties, including musicians who regularly perform with the Charlotte County Symphony, Southwest Florida Symphony, and the Naples Philharmonic.
“The Gulfshore Opera Orchestra is very excited to be playing this great master work. Several section leaders have agreed to memorize their instrumental solos so they can move out front with the vocal soloists to perform in duet style. This along with costumes and staging of the principal soloists and English translations of all recitatives (narrations and dialogue) will make the production accessible to new audiences. We are working very diligently to get word out about this profoundly inspiring sacred work composed by Bach to be performed during the season of Lent,” said Pearce.
With a mission to be inclusive and accessible, Gulfshore Opera offers a limited number of $25 sponsored seats to those who otherwise would not be able to attend.
Corporate sponsor for the Saint Matthew Passion is Alex R. Blagojevic, Financial Advisor, CFP®, ChFC® of The Blagojevic Group at Morgan Stanley in Fort Myers, Florida. Paul Lodato/Christian Television Network 10 (CTN10) is the media sponsor.
What: The Saint Matthew Passion
When: March 18-20
Where: March 18 – 7:30 p.m. – CPAC, Punta Gorda
March 19 – 7:30 p.m. – First Christian Church, Ft. Myers
March 20 – 4:00 p.m. – North Naples Church, Naples
Tickets: Single tickets start at $25 (sponsored tickets)
For more information about the performance, please visit http://www.gulfshoreopera.org or call 239.529.3925.
About Gulfshore Opera
Celebrating its second season, Gulfshore Opera is a regional opera company founded with core values of a community based creative collaboration. Serving Collier, Lee and Charlotte Counties, it seeks to enrich the community by presenting high quality opera-theater and classical vocal music, and promotes community well-being through musical education programs. Its mission is to make opera accessible to the general public by maintaining affordable ticket prices and a wide range of performance experiences suitable for diverse audiences. Gulfshore Opera was founded in 2014 by Steffanie Pearce, who brings 30 years of experience in the field of opera. She is a producer, director, performer, and teacher of the great art form, and has performed around the world.