The core of next year's edition of one of the most recognizable early music festivals in Europe will be a presentation of three oratorios. Every core, however, needs a surrounding layer. Therefore, apart from oratorios, many exceptional works - both the famous and the lesser known (and therefore, the more interesting) - will appear, including perhaps the most famous masterpiece in history: Mozart's Requiem. As every year, the Krakow stages will host the crème de la crème of early music artists: Jordi Savall, Fabio Biondi and Ottavio Dantone. Also returning are the always welcomed Rinaldo Alessandrini and Marc Minkowski. We proudly present the repertoire of the 13th edition of the festival, which will start on 21 March and will last a week, until 27 March 2016. 

“The core of the upcoming Misteria Paschalia Festival will once again present the three oratorios – Alessandro Scarlatti's Cain overo Il primo omicidio, Michele Falco's Oratorio di Sant’Antonio and George Frideric Haendel's Belshazzar, as well as two works on the Passion of the Christ, as seen by Dietrich Buxtehude (Membra Jesu Nostri) and Joseph Haydn (Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze). The programme will be complemented by a presentation of the dark Responsoria Tenebrae by Gesualdo, and one of the most famous works in the history of music – Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Ladies and gentlemen, we present you seven unique concerts – seven very memorable evenings. Only at Misteria Paschalia. Only in Krakow. Enjoy,” said Filip Berkowicz, Artistic Director of the Festival. 

As usual, the festival will accompany the audience throughout the Holy Week. It will not only present works thematically related to Easter, but most of all, those that allow for an exploration of its nature, recalling how people celebrated it in the 17th and 18th century. 

In some places, they celebrated it in a unique way indeed: “the walls, windows and pillars of the church were covered with black fabric, and the solemn darkness was broken only by a huge chandelier hanging from the middle of the ceiling. At certain time, the doors were closed and the music started”. And for such a service one of the most unusual composition of the eighteenth century was created: Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross (Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze) by Joseph Haydn. The music of the set of orchestral ‘sonatas,’ composed to be performed an underground chapel in Cadiz, were to facilitate meditation on the words of Christ. No text (it was read earlier), and no programme; just music that stimulated reflecting upon each of Christ's last words. In Krakow, it will have a twist: the unique role of a guide through the mystery play captured by Haydn will be assumed by Jordi Savall, a frequent guest in the city; however, this time he won't feature in any of the encyclopaedic-syncretic Mediterranean programmes, instead he will conduct his own orchestra, Les Concert des Nations. 

Returning to the Misteria Paschalia in 2016 is one of the most famous Italian musicians, conductor and harpsichordist Rinaldo Alessandrini – of course with his ensemble, Concerto Italiano. The ensemble will feature excellent soloists, such as the much loved (not only in Krakow) Sonia Prina, Roberta Invernizzi, or Carlo Allemano. You cannot miss this concert also because of the programme. Despite the dominance of Italian music at the festival, rarely do we have the opportunity to spend time with one of the maestros: Alessandro Scarlatti. No other composer carried a similar synthesis of the achievements of the 17th century, at the same time giving them a new, codified form. Thus, Scarlatti created the basis for aesthetic currents that would appear in the 18th century - and all this he did with superb quality and a firm hand. One of the pieces from such a mature, conscious of its aims and possibilities, yet not exaggerating Baroque is the oratorio Cain, Or the First Murder (Cain overo il primo omicidio). The Old Testament theme gave him an opportunity to create passionate music, one that is no stranger to virtuosity, but one that is always subject to expression. 

According to the liturgical rite, the music of dark matins will again sound at the festival, on Holy Wednesday. This year, it will be Italian songs, but they will be quite unique, set apart, as was their author – Gesualdo da Venosa. The mannerist master’s Responsoria Tenebrae, an uncompromising and bold combination of words and music, creatively using the expressive richness of dissonances, will be sung by the world successful choir of Capella Cracoviensis, conducted by Jan Tomasz Adamus. 

No true enthusiast of Baroque music will miss the next concert. After all, what could be more exciting than discovering an unknown work of the now obsolete composer, though once popular in his day? Surely not many had the opportunity to enjoy Michele Falco's Oratorio on St. Anthony. The composer is known in history as one of the authors of the first genuine opera buffa, abounding in Neapolitan folk humour (unfortunately, the music was lost in time). However, as a priest, he would certainly not shun religious music. Oratorio di Sant'Antonio is the only preserved major example, since time was not kind to Falco's works. However, now that the work has fallen into the hands of Fabio Biondi and the musicians of Europa Galante, you can expect that it will sound again in its full splendour. 

During the festival, Good Friday is usually devoted to the works focused on the martyrdom of Christ – but this time we will hear a work dedicated to the death of each and every human being. And one as famous as they come, too: Mozart's Requiem. The mythical masterpiece needs no presentation, but it must be added that will be conducted by Marc Minkowski, with Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble. The fabulous conductor will yet again perform one of the crowning achievements of human creativity – following the works of Bach and Mozart's Great Mass in C-minor at the Misteria Paschalia Festival.

The label on the title page of Dietrich Buxtehude's cycle Membra Jesu Nostri said “For Easter and at any other time.” This indicates that these seven short cantatas enjoyed much popularity at its time. And no wonder: though the composer's most widely spread fame is related to organ music – young Bach even risked his job to go to Lübeck and listen to the legendary master. However, the Membra prove that Buxtehude felt equally at home with vocal music, even more enriched by the inspiration coming from the text. Membra are remarkably lively in terms of melody, and full of bold rhetorical phrases and impressive-sounding ideas that give the text a genuine character of pathos. The fact that, when faced with all this wealth (albeit achieved with modest means), we still remain constantly in a state of pious focus earns this work a unique place in the history of religious music. And to remind us of this is surely the Vox Luminis ensemble. Led by Lionel Meunier, the group has been awarded by their velvety softness that conquers the hearts of those who are close to the aesthetics of Philippe Herreweghe. The intimate Saturday concert, set, as usual in the underground of Wieliczka Salt Mine, will be complemented by Agostino Steffani's Stabat Mater

The final concert on Easter Sunday will again feature a great work from the repertoire of world-renowned works – Belshazzar by George Frederic Handel. One of the composer's last oratorio tells the story of the Babylonian king who dared to insult the God of captive Israelites, for which his kingdom was ‘numbered, weighed, and dispersed' – in the words, written by the luminous hand on the wall during the feast. The effective music of this truly theatrical oratory will be conducted by Ottavio Dantone. He will lead the Accademia Bizantina orchestra and Capella Cracoviensis Chamber Choir, which cooperates with the world's best ensembles and outstanding soloists - Thomas Walker, Rosemary Joshua, Filippo Mineccia, Delphine Galou, and Andreas Wolf. 

Together with Channel 2 of the Polish Radio, the co-organizer of the festival, we would like to invite you to concerts in exceptional places – already well-known to the festival audience - Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Chapel of St Kinga in Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow Philharmonic and ICE Kraków Congress Centre.

NOTE: Tickets and passes for the festival concerts will be available for purchase starting tomorrow (15 December) at 10:00 AM, through www.eventim.pl and at four InfoKraków city information points: at Św. Jana 2, at the Wyspiański Pavilion (Wszystkich Świętych 2), at the Cloth Hall (Market Square 1/3) and at the Tourist Service Centre (Powiśle 11). Tickets for individual concerts cost from 30 to 120 PLN (discount tickets), and from 50 to 140 PLN (regular tickets).

Passes for the entire concert cost 480 PLN (discount) and 620 PLN (regular). During the holiday special, from 15.12.2016 to 31.01.2016, or until the ticket pool is used up, a normal pass costs 540 PLN and a discounted pass costs 400 PLN. Note: the number of passes available is limited. More information about the tickets and purchase terms and conditions here.

Media contact

All journalists interested in the events organized in the ICE Kraków, please contact

Michał Zalewski
Media contact

Tel.: 0048 513 099 671 / 0048 12 354 23 20