As Naomi reminded us at rehearsal last night, in only three weeks’ time we will be preparing to spend Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon singing Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah.
There was a salutary reminder last night that the music is not a cake-walk and that we need to revise some of even the best known choruses in order to sing them to the best of our ability. And, as Carlos says each week, we must get our heads around the meaning behind the music if we are to communicate it effectively to our audiences.
I wonder how Handel was feeling three weeks before the first performance This was of course in Dublin, where the composer had spent several months at the invitation of one of his patrons, the Duke of Devonshire. He had professional musicians and singers, sufficient rehearsal time, and the only issue seems to have been the need to transpose some of the arias to suit the vocal range of the chosen soloists. That performance and a subsequent one before he returned to London were a considerable success.
The success was not repeated in London. The work was considered too dramatic to be performed in a church. Conversely, it was deemed sacrilegious to perform it in a theatre or concert hall. It took some time for London authorities and audiences to find the oratorio genre acceptable. And the rest is history, as they say.
The TryBooking website alone is selling tickets for 16 performances of Messiah this December, which can only be a small proportion of the total number of performances across the country. It’s good to know that we are continuing a long tradition in the company of so many like-minded people.