Posted on Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 at 11:07 am.
Handel’s iconic work, Messiah, will be performed by the Trinity Episcopal Church Choir (Columbia, SC) and the North Carolina Baroque Orchestras on Monday evening, Dec. 15, at the Newberry Opera House.
This Baroque oratorio still awes listeners 250 years after the composer’s death. George Frideric Handel’s Messiah was originally an Easter offering. It burst onto the stage of Music Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The audience swelled to a record 700, as ladies had heeded pleas by management to wear dresses “without Hoops” in order to make “Room for more company.”
The men and women in attendance sat mesmerized from the moment the tenor followed the mournful string overture with his piercing opening line: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” Soloists alternated with wave upon wave of chorus, until, near the midway point, So moved by the soprano, was the Rev. Patrick Delany that he leapt to his feet and cried out: “Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!”
Now, of course, Messiah is a fixture of the Christmas season. In most of Handel’s oratorios, the soloists dominate and the choir sings only brief choruses. But in Messiah, says Laurence Cummings, director of the London Handel Orchestra, “the chorus propels the work forward with great emotional impact and uplifting messages.”
The text begins in Part I with prophecies by Isaiah and others, and moves to the annunciation to the shepherds, the only “scene” taken from the Gospels. In Part II, Handel concentrates on the Passion and ends with the “Hallelujah” chorus.
It is fair to say that the Hallelujah Chorus is one of the best known and most performed choral works ever. It is also worth noting that audiences worldwide traditionally stand for this monumental chorus.
Legend has it that in 1743, the British monarch King George II was so moved by Handel’s Hallelujah chorus that he stood out of respect for the “Lord of Lords,” the only authority above his own. When the king stands, everybody stands. The tradition, with or without royalty in the audience, continues.
Tickets are still available for this magnificent work – The Messiah – in Newberry on Dec. 15. For tickets call the Box Office at 803-276-6264 or visit online at www.newberryoperahouse.com. Make sure to like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/newberry.opera.house and follow us on Twitter @nbyoperahouse to get exclusive artist and event information as well as a sneak peak behind the scenes!