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Bohuslav Martin?’s opera Die griechische Passion is based on the novel Der wieder gekreuzigte Christus (The re-crucified Christ) by Nikos Kazantzakis. The opera develops the Christian doctrine of “love thy neighbour” ad absurdum, as a group of refugees are driven out of their little Greek village just as the village is putting on a Passion play for Holy Week. The piece is centred on the general question of humanity. The Passion story is robbed of its uniqueness and revealed as a simple precedent for eternal tragedy.
Martin?, who was forced to emigrate from the south of France to the USA in 1940 when Paris fell to the Nazis, had his own experience of the pain of being a refugee. The Greek Passion is considered one of his most coherent and mature scores. For this exciting and vigorous work, Martin developed a tonal language which combined his early musical experiences with elements of Greek folklore, Greek Orthodox liturgy and dance music.