The choice of soloists

You can really feel the tension. After the audition it will be clear who has a soloist role in the Passion Play 2020. 19 applicants have meticulously prepared for this moment since 2017 and are now on stage at the Passion Theatre. Each of them has to prove himself in front of a jury of six, consisting of Markus Zwink, the musical director of the Passion Play, the two conductors Dr. Christian Wolf and Eva Kammerer as well as the three external experts Lucia Hilz (cathedral conductor of the Frauenkirche in Munich), Ulli Schäfer (choir director from Starnberg) and Johannes Gruber (music teacher at the Benediktinergymnasium Ettal). The latter only have an advisory function and have no voting rights.

It was a long way until the candidates stood on the stage of the Passion Theatre. Since 2017, they have been able to take lessons in singing and accompaniment every two weeks. Internally, auditions took place approximately every two months for training purposes. Together with the other singers, the performances were analysed and Markus Zwink provided feedback and suggestions for improvement. Dominika Breidenbach, freshly selected soprano soloist, tells us that she found the situation sometimes more exciting than performing in front of an audience: "It's a lot of good will and support, but it's also criticized in detail when you sing in front of a purely professional audience.

Her grandmother already appeared as a soloist at the Passion Play and left a strong impression on Dominika. She herself was asked by Markus Zwink in the winter of 2016 whether she could imagine going through the soloist training programme. Since then, the 23-year-old psychology student has tried to integrate singing into everyday life and to sing one hour a day in addition to her lessons. At her place of study in Freiburg, she sings in the oratorio choir, which organises a large concert four times a year. She has founded a vocal ensemble with friends, in which they interpret jazz, swing, classical music and church music. Since first grade Dominika has sung in various Oberammergau choirs. In the girls' choir of her soloist colleague Gabriele Weinfurter-Zwink, musicals were performed in which the young singers were able to gain their first solo experience.

On the day of the audition everyone met at 11 a.m. in the Passion Theatre and first of all the individual performances and times were drawn by lots. Already at 9.30 a.m. Dominika warmed herself up. In the cold Passion Theatre, the singers were faced with the challenge of keeping their voices warm at 10 degrees Celsius. A performance was often followed by a longer break in the dressing room, waiting for the next performance.

Dominika Breidenbach (Photo: privat)

"To deliver to the point is not so easy and when you stand on the stage of the Passion Theatre, you need more courage than singing in a normal room. But the acoustics in front of the empty auditorium are just great."

Dominika sang in the passion choir in 2010 and already had stage experience. "Over time you develop a certain routine. In 2010 it was normal to stand and sing in front of so many people on stage. Sometimes we played cards right before the gig in the dressing room. But as a soloist another pressure weighs on you, because you are not embedded in such a group and you hear every little mistake."

Among the soloists, two thirds have already been on stage in this role. For one third it is - at least in this outstanding position - a novelty, even though they all took part in the Passion Play several times before. They know each other, also from singing together in various Oberammergau choirs. They are a sworn group that harmonizes well with each other. Dominika also had to prove this at the audition when she was assigned the contralto soloist Caroline Fischer-Zwink for the duet. "Sometimes it was possible to use the opportunity to rehearse duets with colleagues from the contralto who had rehearsals afterwards, but with Caroline this did not happen beforehand. But it also worked out great spontaneously."

After the last performance at the audition Dominika left the stage with mixed feelings. The tension gave way to relief and joy in the evening when she received the news that she had been chosen/appointed as soloist of the Passion Play 2020. "I was so happy!“

Text: Jenny Greza

Photos: Andreas Stückl / private

All choir soloists briefly introduced:

Solo Soprano

Dominika Breidenbach

The 23-year-old psychology student sang in the choir at the last Passion Play. In 2000 she was part of the people.

Maria Buchwieser

The 53-year-old music teacher at the secondray school conducted the orchestra at the 2000 Passion Play. In 2010 she performed as a soprano soloist.

Katharina Osterhammer

The 40-year-old head of planning  in the Artistic Administration of the Münchner Volkstheater is now on stage for the third time as a soprano soloist.

Franziska Zwink

The 27-year-old vocal student was part of the choir at the Passion Play 2010. In 2000 she was part of the people and could be seen in the living picture "On Calvary".

Maria Zwink

In 2010 the 29-year-old could be seen in the choir, in 2000 she was part of the people on stage. She is currently studying jazz singing and also music and biology for teaching.

Solo Contralto

Caroline Fischer-Zwink

The 53-year-old doctor already stood on the stage of the Passion Theatre in 2000 and 2010 as an contralto soloist.

Antonie Schauer

The 54-year-old businesswoman and sculptor already sang a soloist role at the Passion Play in 2000 and 2010.

Monika Frank

The 27-year-old flight attendant performed in the choir at the Passion Play 2010. In 2000 she was part of the people.

Gabriele Weinfurter-Zwink

The 61-year-old is a singer in the Bayerische Rundfunk Choir and has already performed as an contralto soloist at the 2000 and 2010 Passion Plays.

Veronika Pfaffenzeller

The 35-year-old works as a management consultant and agile coach. She played in the orchestra at the Passion Play in 2000 and 2010.

Solo Tenor

Korbinian Heinzeller

The 37-year-old sports and English teacher was already a tenor soloist at the 2010 Passion Play. In 2000 he stood on stage as a member of the choir.

Michael Pfaffenzeller

The 30-year-old cultural manager played in the orchestra at the 2000 Passion Play. In 2010 he stood on stage as a tenor soloist.

Solo Bass

Heino Buchwieser

The 62-year-old master carpenter and teacher at the Staatliche Berufsfachschule für Holzbildhauer in Oberammergau was already on stage at the Passion Play 2000 and 2010 as bass soloist.

Anton Sonntag

The 26-year-old student was a member of the choir at the Passion Play 2010 and performed among the people in 2000.

Josef Zwink

In addition to his profession as a hotelier, the 42-year-old performs as a concert singer. He also appeared as a bass soloist at the Passion Play in 2000 and 2010.