The start of Lent signals the beginning of the passion play season in many towns around Catalonia. The Federació Catalana de Passions de Catalunya, the association representing the dramatic presentations that depict the suffering of Christ, recently presented a varied new programme of plays in the Pietat hermitage in Ulldecona.
This year’s passion plays will take place in the towns of Cervera, Esparreguera, La Cava, Llinars, Olesa, Vilalba, Vilassar as well as Ulldecona, which this year celebrates 65 consecutive years of putting on its play. As a result, this year’s edition, under the direction of Jordi Príncep and Bienve Borràs, includes a number of new features, such as a new stage set, new music and a revamped script, all aimed at making the play more dynamic.
Another of the country’s most well-known passion plays is the one held every year in Olesa de Montserrat, which was also one of the first to raise the curtain on the season when it began on March 3. Olesa’s play is also one of the most spectacular, involving a thousand people, the latest technology such as digital mapping, while also taking place on one of the largest stages in Europe, which is a full 30 metres wide. Olesa, along with Esparreguera, has the honour of being one of Catalonia’s most important passion plays.
Esparreguera draws 15,000
The grand spectacle put on in Esparreguera every year is capable of attracting 15,000 spectators, all keen to see the portrayal of historical and religious figures from 2,000 years ago. This year, under the direction of Vicky Martínez, the play puts the emphasis on the start and end of the production, while novelties have been introduced in the lighting and costume worn by Jesus. There is also a larger role for the local choir accompanying the play, “because it is one of the pillars that provides the show with grandeur,” according to the organisers, who add: “The large participation of actors and cast members confirms the idea that La Passió d’Esparreguera remains in the best of health and with a promising future ahead of it.”
Another major passion play is Cervera’s La Passió, which can be seen over two weekends, on April 13 and 14, and then on April 27 and 28. This year, attendees are also being offered a chance to get to know the city in Lleida province, with a number of tourist routes to learn about the local history, including visits, lunch and
accommodation in the ticket to see one of Catalonia’s oldest passion plays. Among the novelties this year is the incorporation of new technology into the production to make more of the stage set, which includes backdrops painted by the Salvador brothers.