Carnivale Christi returning to Sydney with an Easter theme

Carnivale Christi returning to Sydney with an Easter theme

Liz Arblaster and Anthony McCarthy

From Friday 29 April, St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, will be host to a three-day festival of Catholic art, music, film, theatre and prayer exploring the Passion, Resurrection and Christian life. Carnivale Christi promises to engage the city of Sydney more than ever.

After a year off in 2004, Carnivale Christi is returning to Sydney for 2005 in both a shorter and more dynamic format. The festival has been compressed into three days with the entire program now taking place in and around St Mary's Cathedral, its crypt, hall and the surrounds.

Heading up the new-look program are two international guests, Italian-based actor Francesco de Vito and American priest Fr John Bartunek LC.

Carnivale Christi will be launched on Friday evening when Cardinal Pell opens "Passion in Art & Film" an exhibition of Australian photographer Ken Duncan's behind-the- scenes shots from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

'Passion' movie

Duncan's work will be juxtaposed with the acclaimed "Stations of the Cross" and other religious works of Croatian-born Australian artist Charles Billich. In the impressive surrounds of the Cathedral Crypt this exhibition will provide a unique experience to commence the three-day festival.

Immediately following this will be "Inside the Passion: An Insider's Look at the Movie", with Italian-based actor Francesco de Vito, who played St Peter in the movie along with American priest Fr John Bartunek LC, author of the definitive behind-the- scenes book.

"Inside the Passion" will explore extracts from the movie, include commentary on particular scenes along with interactive questions-and-answers and an opportunity to see official photos from the movie in the Crypt. This will be an opening night not to be missed.

At its core Carnivale Christi is a prayerful thanksgiving to our Creator, the first mover in any artistic creation. Consequently 40 hours Adoration will commence on the Friday night in the Cathedral itself, and this time of prayer will continue throughout the three days of the festival until Benediction on the Sunday afternoon.

Saturday will begin with two premiere screenings of Mother Teresa: The Movie, starring Olivia Hussey. This beautiful new film on the life of one of the most renowned people of the twentieth century will touch the lives of thousands as Mother's tireless work with the poor, sick and orphaned has touched the lives of millions.

Simultaneously, the antique mosaic floor of St Mary's Crypt will be the stage for a production of T.S Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral, which will be performed exactly 70 years after its premiere in Canterbury Cathedral as part of their Canterbury Festival. Acclaimed actor, writer and director, Donald Macdonald, will direct the play and this will be the first time Sydney's two Catholic theatre companies, Life Theatre and the Genesian Theatre, have joined forces.

Festival-goers will then have an opportunity to meet, talk and relax at the Carnivale Café where a host of contemporary bands from around the country will perform.

Carnivale Christi culminates on Sunday with a Festival Mass celebrated by Cardinal Pell. The Festival Choir, which unites choirs from all over Sydney, including those from the Maronite, Melkite, Ukrainian and Chaldean Churches, will sing a special Gregorian Mass setting as well as introits, antiphons and motets from the various Eastern traditions in this celebration of diversity and unity.

Mass will be followed by a Champagne Reception at noon with Cardinal Pell and Opera Australia soprano, Joanne Cole. Benediction on the main altar of the Cathedral will close the three-day spectacle.

The new three-day festival invites Carnivale Christi participants to undertake an inspiring cultural journey from Passion to Resurrection. Staged during Eastertide around the Cathedral, the festival seeks to grow as Sydney's Catholic Arts Festival, to unite the various cultural, ethnic and spiritual groups from across the city and to strengthen Sydney's religious and cultural appreciation of the Easter season.

Creative impulse

Carnivale Christi is a unique opportunity to recognise and celebrate the creative impulse in each of us, born of our design in the image of God the Creator. By exploring the arts in this Christian context we also have a chance to engage with eternal truth through the particular means and expressions of our present culture, recognising that there is no aspect of culture through which God cannot speak.

Carnivale Christi seeks to engage the whole Church, both the young and the not so young, new Australians and those who have been here for generations, those interested in traditional religious and cultural forms and those interested in finding new expressions of that faith.

As Carnivale Christi aims to seek the face of Christ through the arts, the people of Sydney and Australia are invited to celebrate their faith and culture at this festival.

Festival passes are available for $95 adults and $75 concession. Some group packages are also available as are tickets to individual events. For more information visit

Report prepared by Liz Arblaster and Anthony McCarthy, organisers.

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