The Greek Passion

Bohuslav Martinů

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This is Manolios. He’s about to sacrifice everything.

This searing season opener is a tale for our times. When a group of desperate refugees arrives in a small village seeking help and shelter, deep rifts tear the community in two. Manolios, one of the villagers, pleads with his neighbours to show compassion for the exiled. But he is met with a wall of contempt that he must find the strength to break down…

Martinů’s Greek Passion, performed here in the original London version, is a unique and powerfully resonant opera. A spectacular soundscape of vast choral and orchestral forces combines with shocking drama that unfolds in cinematic style. It is not to be missed. 

“Striking…the Chorus of Opera North is on fierce and fearless form…”
★★★★ — The Times

“Musically, it’s extremely fine… Garry Walker conducts with a dark intensity…”
★★★★ — The Guardian

“A powerful production that hits home hard.”
★★★★ — The Stage

“Astonishing…this is an important, accessible production. Catch it while you can.”
★★★★ — The Arts Desk

£15 to £75*

Running time
Approximately 2 hours 40 minutes

Sung in English

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*Prices vary by venue. Booking fees may apply.

A co-production with Den Norske Opera
Supported by the Friends of Opera North.



In a remote Greek settlement, the villagers are casting roles for the upcoming Passion Play. Manolios, a shepherd, is cast as Christ, the widow Katerina is chosen to play Mary Magdalene and her lover Panait is given the role of Judas.

Shortly after, a group of desperate refugees arrive. The village leader, Father Grigoris does not trust the outsiders, and when one of the refugees dies from hunger, he blames the death on cholera and uses this lie to expel them from the village. Manolios and Katerina decide to help the refugees and lead them to a place nearby where they can find shelter.

As the refugees begin to build their camp on a nearby mountainside, Katerina realises that she has fallen in love with Manolios. One of the villagers, Yannakos is convinced that he can profit from the refugees and sets off to con them out of their possessions. However, upon witnessing the abject poverty in which they live, he feels shamed and vows to help them. Manolios and Katerina come to accept their mutual attraction toward each other, but Manolios decides he cannot act upon it. Katerina is distraught.

Manolios dreams of Katerina as the holy virgin but is awoken by Lenio, his fiancée, with whom he has grown increasingly distant. She asks about their wedding and unsatisfied with Manolios’ answer finds herself drawn to the shepherd Nikolios instead.

Manolios becomes ever more consumed by his role as Christ and appeals to the villagers to help the refugees. Seeing that his authority is growing, the village elders decide that Manolios must be expelled from the village.

Lenio and Nikolios are to be married. During the celebrations, Father Grigoris condemns Manolios and excommunicates him. Manolios delivers a passionate sermon, calling for the villagers to be compassionate but Father Grigoris rallies the villagers behind him, inciting them against Manolios, until Panait finally closes in on him and kills him.

Accessible information

The following audio notes give detailed information about the story, the sets and costumes, the cast list, and the dates and venues of the performances. These are to aid customers who are blind or partially sighted. Please note, the story and the details of the sets and costumes contain spoilers, so avoid them if you would prefer not to know what happens!

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The Greek Passion

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