From the programme booklet
St Matthew Passion – Synopsis
Written by Benedikt von Peter
Scene 1 – The High Council Decides upon Jesus’ Death
Caiaphas meets with the other Jewish high priests to plan the capture and death of Jesus.
Scene 2 – The Anointment at the House of Simon
Simon’s wife anoints Jesus’ head, to the dismay of his disciples, who lament the wasting of this precious good. Jesus explains to them that the woman has done a good deed, preparing him for the grave.
Scene 3 – The Betrayal of Judas
Judas comes before the high priests and announces his willingness to betray Jesus for a price of thirty pieces of silver.
Scene 4 – The Last Supper
Jesus celebrates the Easter meal with his disciples. He predicts that one of them will betray him. Jesus breaks the bread – his body – and distributes the wine – his blood.
Scene 5 – Peter‘ Oath of Faith
Peter swears he will never deny Jesus. The other disciples agree. Jesus predicts that Peter will disown him three times before the rooster crows.
Scene 6 – Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Jesus is sad and asks Peter and the sons of Zebedee to keep watch with him. When all his disciples have fallen asleep, Jesus prays to God, his father.
Scene 7 – The Capture of Jesus
Judas appears with the high priests and soldiers. To identify Jesus for his enemies, Judas kisses him. Thereupon, Jesus is seized and taken away.
Scene 8 – False Witnesses before the High Council
Jesus is led before Caiaphas and the high priests. Two false witnesses appear, and Jesus is condemned to death for blasphemy. He remains silent.
Scene 9 – Peter’s Denial
Outside the palace, Peter is recognized by several people as one of Jesus’ followers. He denies his connection with Jesus three times. The crow of a rooster announces the new day. Peter remembers Jesus’ words and bursts into tears.
Scene 10 – The Death of Judas
The high priests decide to bring Jesus before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate to have their death sentence executed. When Judas sees this, he repents his deed. He returns the blood money – thirty pieces of silver – to the high priests and hangs himself from a tree.
Scene 11 – The Interrogation by Pilate
The governor interrogates Jesus and the high priests accuse him. When Pilate asks Jesus for a response, he remains silent.
Scene 12 – Jesus is Condemned
On Passover, the governor asks the people which criminal he should set free: Jesus or Barabbas. Incited by the high priests, the crowd cries for Barabbas to be freed. Pilate asks the people what is to happen with Jesus. The crowd demands that he be crucified.
Scene 13 – The Vilification of Jesus
When Pilate realizes that he cannot change the judgment, he takes a bowl of water and washes his hands. Barabbas is freed, and Jesus is flagellated. A purple cloak is put around his shoulders and he is crowned with a wreath of thorns. The crowd salutes him, mocking him as the “King of Jews”.
Scene 14 – Simon Bears the Cross for Jesus
Jesus is sent upon the path to his crucifixion. A man named Simon of Cyrene is forced to bear the cross for him.
Scene 15 – The Crucifixion of Jesus
They come to Golgotha, the “place of skulls”, where Jesus is crucified. He is given vinegar to drink and mocked: the son of God cannot even free himself from the cross.
Scene 16 – The Death of Jesus
Jesus dies. At that moment, the veil in the Temple is torn apart, the earth trembles and rocks burst. Now the bystanders realize that Jesus truly was the son of God. One of Jesus’ disciples, the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea, asks Pilate to hand the corpse over to him.
Scene 17 – Burial
Jesus is washed and wrapped in a shroud. His body is laid in a grave which is sealed with a large boulder.
Translation: Alexa Nieschlag