An Idea and How It Grew

"noun; French pahs-par-too]. something that passes everywhere
or provides a universal means of passage,
a master key; skeleton key. an ornamental mat for a picture."

Every year between 2000 and 2014 I held a yearly two-week
summer workshop in the little town of Sieggraben,in Austria.
The workshop was open to singers of all ages, nationalities
and types. I and my team of singing teachers and correpetiteurs
worked with professionals and amateurs; opera singers,
musical theater performers, dancers and actors from Canada,
New Zealand, Paraguay, the US, Armenia, England,
France, Holland, Germany and of course Austria.
We began work at 9 am and worked until 9pm every day except
the middle Sunday, when we sang Mass at the tiny, beautiful
Catholic church in the village, after which they gave us
a slap-up lunch, we slept and then worked again until 9pm.
At the end of the two weeks we gave a concert of all that
we had worked on for the villagers, family and friends.

Over the years I kept in touch with many of the participants.
Occasionally some of them would take part in my current project:
a concert, or small-scale opera or musical etc. This resulted in
performances in Austria and Germany, amongst other works, of
"Christine’s Audition", in Vienna and Salzburg, "Hexen"
in Vienna, Salzburg, Stuttgart and "Aspekte des Gretchen" in
Vienna, Bruck an der Leitha and Eisenstadt.

These have all been informal collaborations, where the receipts
were shared among the performers, who came together to rehearse
and perform a particular work. Without establishing a formal
company or "Verein" artists from several nations would meet
for a specific work, and then disburse again to their home towns
or countries.

In the time of lockdown and without any means of performing
other than digital, the urgent need grew for a flexible, cooperative,
peripatetic ensemble— "a universal means of passage"— which
performs and disseminates works of every genre—
"something that passes everywhere"—
without having a fixed place of performance.

So, from 2021, "Passepartout" will give concerts and
performances on a regular basis (see "Coming Events") with
different groups of performers at different venues,
and in the Fall we will continue our Covid-interrupted
preparation of the 3-Nation Opera Project "Orfeo 20-22,"
with singers and instrumentalists from Austria,
Italy and Armenia.

In the course of a career as a stage director which stretches
back to 1988, one of my main goals has been to prepare a
future educated and informed public by including children
and teenagers in many of my productions as active participants
and protagonists. This work, which began with the
"Mariahilfer Oper" in Vienna in 1990, will be continued by
Ensemble Passepartout in the years to come.

  Andrea Mellis


  Ensemble "Passepartout" presents:  

"And Music Dawned Above Despair"
Song Cycles by the composer Ronald Hannah,
for his 75th birthday

Frolieb Stollwerck, Soprano
Sabine Kogler, Alto
Luiz Gabriel de Melo Neto, Tenor
Florian Sowa, Baritone

Christopher Devine, Piano

June 12, 2021 19:00
Österreichische Gesellschaft für Musiktheater,
Türkenstraße 19, 1090 Vienna

  Ensemble "Passepartout" presents:  

"Telling Tales"
Songs that Tell a Story
Lecture, with songs and arias from various composers

Irene Hofmann, Wilma Maller, Frolieb Stollwerck, Sopranos

Charlotte Korthals, Miruna Mihailescu, Eva Neumayr,
Tine Rösslhuber, and Katrin Stuflesser, Mezzosopranos

Philip Unterreiner and Florian Sowa, Baritones
Christian Roupec, Bass

Andrea Mellis, Speaker
Jeffrey Greiman, Piano

Coming in the Fall, 2021