As soon as the first run of Stephen McNeff's new opera was over, Cantabile and the rest of the cast got into the studio to capture the freshness of this new production, warts and all, and while, as the composer's sleeve note, reminds us, 'Passions' was still developing'.
In September 2001, Cantabile were back at BAC(Lavender Hill, Battersea) for another run of Passionsby Stephen McNeff and Alice Oswald, directed by Tom Morris. Commissioned by Cantabile with BAC, and based on Euripides' Alcestis, Passions is the story of a woman who gives up her life for her husband. Through interviews with heart-attack victims and women with experience of caring for the sick, the story is retold in the form of a passion, using aria, recitative and chorale. Performed by Cantabile with Adey Grummet (soprano) and Hannah Marshall ('cello), the work is austere, beautiful and thought-provoking and confronts issues that everyone has to face.
Accompanied by music in the first half from Hildegard of Bingen, Byrd, Poulenc and McNeff, Passions was hailed by the Guardian as 'pick of the week', by Time Out as 'achingly beautiful' by the Times as 'quietly impressive...and admirably performed' and by Opera as 'a gripping musical experience... the voices were so strongly projected, the words so clearly articulated and the existence of the characters so vividly delineated that... one was drawn into their lives'.