May 15-October 3, 2010
The Passion Play was the primary reason that we went on our tour this year. The passion play had been on our "bucket list" since we visited Oberammergau in the summer of 2004. While strolling through the town, we came upon the auditorium of the play site and read the advertisements for the upcoming 2010 season. Christine and I both expressed a "wouldn't it be nice to come back and see the play." Neither of us had any idea that it would come about.
The passion play, a "Play of the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ", had its origins in 1633. During the Thirty Years War, the Oberammergauers were among the many who suffered and died from the plague. The Oberammergauers swore an oath that they would perform a play of the suffering and death of Jesus every ten years if they were spared from the bubonic plague. By July 1633, the death rate had subsided to one. The villagers believed they were spared, and the first performance took place at Pentecost 1634. The stage was put up in the cemetery above the fresh graves of the plague victims. Thus began the history of the passion play. The 2010 season marked the 41st performance spanning 376 years.
The present stage was built in 1928 and the auditorium in 1998. The theater has about 4,700 seats.
The actors, musicians, singers, director, technicians, etc. have all been born in Oberammergau or have lived in the village for at least 20 years. Approximately 2,400 villagers, or one half the population, are in the play.
There are 21 principal parts (Jesus, Mary, John, Judas, Peter, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas and others).
The cast includes 120 smaller and bigger speaking parts, solo singers, 100 male and female choisters, orchestra, Apostles, priests and scribes, Roman soldiers, and temple guards. It also seemed as if every youngster in the village played a part in the performance.