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 9 pm 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 9 pm.
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:  

"Daniel in the Lions' Den"
13th Century Liturgical drama

Church of the former Pauline Monastery
Baumgarten, Burgenland, Austria
23. September 19:30

Roswitha Gross
Christine Rösslhuber
Karoline Tröger
Christian Roupec
Walter Spanny
Luiz Gabriel de Melo Neto
Florian Sowa
Philip Unterreiner
Albin Paulus - Flutes, Bagpipes, Jaw Harp
Pat Feldner - Percussion
Elisabeth Zeisner - Gamba, Recorders
Jürgen Skalenar - Baroque Trombone
Martin Gut - Tromba Marina
Zsuzsa Aba-Nagy - Celtic Harp, Gothic Harp

Andrea Mellis - Concept and Director
Ronald Hannah - Instrumental Arrangements

Meidlinger Festival of Church Music 2022,
Maria-Lourdes Church

Tivoligasse 20, 1120 Vienna,
21 November 2022 19:30

Megtestesülés Plébánia Church,
Debrecen, Hungary
29 April, 2023 (Time to be announced)

  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

October, 2022

Salon Brahms, Paniglgasse 5, 1040 Vienna