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Christ Lag in Todes Banden

Directed by the provocative American director, Eric Fraad, Christ Lag in Todes Banden is a staged production presented in two parts. Part I resembles a mystical ceremony that explores the sources and works that led to and influenced Johann Sebastian Bach’s first cantata. Part II is a hallucinogenic staging of Bach’s Christ Lag in Todes Banden inspired by the rich symbolism of Martin Luther’s text and medieval church drama.

eX ‘s Christ Lag in Todes Banden was first performed on Easter Sunday 2007 in Ireland to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Bach’s first performance of his cantata.

Christ Lag in Todes Banden (BWV 4)

On Easter Sunday 1707 the twenty-two year old Johann Sebastian Bach auditioned for the position of organist for the church of St. Blasius in Mülhausen, Germany. The cantata Bach wrote and performed, Christ Lag in Todes Banden, is considered his first sacred vocal work. The chorale Christ lag in Todes Banden was adapted in 1524 by Martin Luther from the 11th century Easter sequence, Victimae Pascali Laudes (by Wipo of Burgundy) and the hymn Christ ist Erstanden. It was later treated as the basis for compositions by many German composers of the 16th and 17th centuries including Schütz, Schein, Praetorius, Pachelbel and Buxtehüde. Thus when Bach wrote his cantata he was well aware of those he would be comparing himself to and with whom his judges would be comparing him; the pantheon of great German baroque composers.

Bach’s Christ lag in Todes Banden written in eight movements is a mere twenty minutes in duration yet in this short span the composer – using the hymn’s melody as the basis for each movement – creates a work of startling invention, symmetry, intensity, and solemnity. One of Bach’s only cantatas in the Middle German style written before Italian opera was to influence his notions of composition, this Cantata harkens back to an earlier tradition, one from which the composer’s roots spring and from where his great artistic and spiritual powers emerged.

Sunday 12th June 2011 at 4pm
Theater Velodrom – Arnulfsplatz, Regensburg Germany
Tage Alter Musik Regensburg

Christ Lag in Todes Banden

Music Direction – Caitríona O’Leary & Ariadne Daskilakas
Stage Direction – Eric Fraad
Set Design – Liam Ryan
Costume Design – Emma Downey
Lighting Design – Helmut Schandl


The Virgin Mary – Cassandra Hoffman – Soprano
Mary Magdalene – Caitríona O’Leary – Mezzo Soprano
Joseph – Julian Podger– Tenor
Martin Luther – Jörg Gottschick – Bass Baritone

The Angel Gabriel – Jessica Kennedy – Dancer
The Angel Michael – Megan Kennedy – Dancer
Jesus of Nazareth – Michael Cooney – Dancer
Death – Daniel Reardon – Actor
Judas Iscariot – Davy O’Leary Fraad – Actor

1st Violin – Ariadne Daskalakis
2nd Violin – Richard Gwilt
1st Viola – Sebastian Gottschick
2nd Viola – Irmgard Schaller
Cello – Ranier Zipperling
Organ – Mareile Schmidt

Christ Lag in Todes Banden


GREGORIAN CHANT Christus resurgens ex mortuis

GREGORIAN CHANT Victimae paschali laudes (Easter Sequence)

JOHANN HERMANN SCHEIN Christ lag in Todesbanden

HEINRICH SCHÜTZ Feget den alten Sauerteig, SWV 404

MICHAEL PRAETORIUS Christ ist erstanden
(ca. 1571-1621)

HEINRICH IGNAZ FRANZ BIBER Passacaglia g-Minor for Solo Violin
(1644-1704) from the Rosary Sonatas



JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden BWV 4

I. Sinfonia
II. Chorus: Christ lag in Todesbanden
III. Duett-Soprano / Alto: Den Tod niemand zwingen kann
IV. Aria-Tenor: Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn
V.  Chorus: Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg
VI. Aria-Bass: Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm
VII. Duet-Soprano/ Tenor: So feiern wir das hohe Fest
VIII. Chorus: Wir essen und leben wohl

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