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Passion of Sordevolo makes triumphant return from the pandemic

L-R - President Fogliano, Mayor Monticone, and Stage Director - image courtesy of M.Masciullo

On Saturday, June 18, 2022, the historical representation of the Passion of Christ returns, born in Rome in the Renaissance time and staged in Sordevolo, Municipality of the Biella Prealps, Piedmont region, every 5 years since 1815.

For over 200 years, the inhabitants of Sordevolo, a charming village rich in spirituality and culture located along the path of the sacred mountains, between the sanctuary of Oropa and Graglia, have been staging a popular choral theatrical performance unique in Italy and in the world created by actors from the Sordevolo community classified as “amateurs.”

The organizing committee of Sordevolo’s Passion led by President Stefano Rubin Pedrazzo, Director Celestino Fogliano, and Mayor Alberto Monticone, presented to the national and international press some salient pictures and the complicated operational mechanisms of the 29 scenes that make up the show.

President Pedrazzo added: “We are proceeding with great strides towards the appointment of next June 18 when the Sordevolo Passion will return to the scene after the celebration of the bi-centenary which took place in 2015. Therefore, a show is back that this year aims to sell out, with about 35 performances scheduled from June to September that attract tens of thousands of spectators to an amphitheater of 4,000 square meters.

“In 2015, about 31,000 spectators from Italy, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Poland, USA, Ecuador, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, and other countries attended the event.”

Shared Director Celestino Fogliano said: “The Passion was born two hundred years ago, but its origins are much more remote.

“Between the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Compagnia della Confraternita del Gonfalone performed a text of the Passion in the Colosseum in Rome.

“The first printed edition of the Passion was published in Rome in 1500-1501. The text is by the Florentine Giuliano Dati and, over the centuries, it arrived in Sordevolo thanks to the bond of the Ambrosetti, important deaf weavers, with the papal curia or thanks to the Confraternity of Santa Lucia di Verdobbio, a small fraction of Sordevolo, affiliated to the Confraternity of the Gonfalone from Rome.

“The manuscript was found in deck XII of the Archconfraternity of the Gonfalone archive now kept in the Vatican Secret Archives.

“The scenography, made entirely with the means and skills introduced by the citizens of Sordevolo, reconstructs a fragment of the Jerusalem of the year 33 AD: the palace of Herod, the Sanhedrin, the Praetorium of Pilate, the garden of Gethsemane, the Cenacle, the Mount Calvary.

“The 29 scenes that makes up the show take place in front of the 2400-seat amphitheater built specifically 15 years ago. In the same amphitheater, artists of the caliber of Ennio Morricone have also performed in the past.

“In recent years, the Sordevolo Popular Theater Association has promoted the setting up in the premises of the seventeenth-century church of Santa Marta. The permanent museum on the tradition of Sordevolo’s Passion is open from June to October every Sunday and on all show dates.”

Mayor Monticone highlighted the passion of its citizens dedicated to the “Passion of Christ” when he said: “Over 700 members of the Sordevolo community out of about 1,300 inhabitants – 400 actors (42 spoken parts and 360 extras) aged between 5 and 80 years, voluntarily dedicate themselves, full time, to the success of this historic initiative.”

Behind the scenes, 300 people collaborate: the tireless craftsmen of costumes, equipment, and various furnishings.

The complex organizational machine stages around 35 reruns, from June to September: 29 scenes for more than 2 hours of acting per rerun on over 4,000 square meters of the amphitheater.

The organizational economic value estimates at 800,000 euros without counting the value of the volunteering of over 80,000 working hours, which generates an estimated 1 million euros for the economy of Sordevolo.

In the past, Sordevolo was a privileged holiday destination appreciated by prominent Italian personalities including writers Cesare Pavese; Leone Ginzburg; Benedetto Croce, member of the senate of the kingdom of Italy; and many other protagonists of the 900s.

Sordevolo’s plan for the future is to return to the center of the major national tourist routes taking advantage of the promotional assistance of the Passion.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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