The Juniper Passion: production and design
Classically inspired opera, created for contemporary audiences
Written in three acts, the opera has six principle roles and a chorus. It is scored for chamber orchestra including string quartet, bass, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, piano and organ. Contemporary digital sound effects and percussion instruments are interwoven with the classical instruments to create an unique contemporary-classical sound.
Drama through sight and sound
The powerful voices of some of New Zealand’s top vocalists are accompanied by the visual splendor of choreography by Moss Paterson. Contemporary dance portrays the two women, Helen and her mother Jessie, and the soldiers of 1944 who they remember in their visit to Monte Cassino. The impassioned and dramatic art form of dance embodies the musical narrative. It complements the dramatic operatic format and captures the audience’s sense.
The opening sequence is an extended choreography performed by a dance company of 12 men and three women. This company is reminiscent of the traditional Greek chorus, who thereafter enact the drama alongside the singers. Dancers and singers sharing the stage provides many options for the manifestation of the story’s emotion, drama and action.
Design that reflects culture: New Zealand and Monte Cassino
A War Memorial Cenotaph in each New Zealand town and city is an iconic part of our identity and heritage. The Juniper Passion begins here, with a cenotaph that ‘yawns up the dead’. The ghosts of war emerge to tell their stories.
Michael Knapp’s lighting catapults audiences into the bombed-out crypt of the Abbey of Monte Cassino. Stylish imagery is projected to re-create the majestic architecture, contextualising the opera in space and time. Striking reds remind us of bloodthirst and bloodshed, while cool blues are reminiscent of the quiet calm of death, the icy European winter.