In his two epochal settings of the Passion – according to St Matthew and to St John – Johann Sebastian Bach distilled the essence of his church music and his theological message. However the right performance context has always been a subject of debate: both works go beyond the scope of any liturgical use, and the structure in each case with recitatives, arias, dialogues and choruses calls clearly for scenic realisation. Thus American star producer Peter Sellars and Sir Simon Rattle collaborated to perform the St Matthew Passion on the stage of Berlin’s Philharmonie in 2010, and the St John Passion followed four years later. Sellars's approach is based on his conviction that »This is not theatre. It's a prayer, a meditation.«
This production of St John Passion now comes to the Elbphilharmonie with the same acclaimed vocal ensemble and the period ensemble Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.