Saturday, December 5, 2009

Messiah as Opera!

A hug-in on a lawn … The Hallejujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

This is the caption to this photo published in the UK's Guardian last weekend. It accompanies a review of Deborah Warner's English National Opera production of Messiah. A friend in London alerted me to it. The reviewer is not particularly enamoured of oratorio as opera, in general, and definitely not for Handel's masterpiece.

This is because says Tim Ashley, the reviewer, "the piece is ultimately about prophecy and revelation, and its message is embedded in a complex structure that is more literary than theatrical." This makes it almost impossible to stage as a dramatic opera. He explains how "Warner falls back on a series of images that show how Christian iconography and belief intersect with everyday life... [which] fails to reflect the mounting elation of Handel's score. The Hallelujah Chorus looks like a hug-in on a lawn." Ultimately, Ashley says "The work's greatness is never in doubt for a second, but its visual accompaniment is entirely unnecessary."

My friend wondered what next? Messiah on roller skates, perhaps!

Read the full review here. For my part I'm very glad we are performing the whole thing, no cuts, and it was intended - without visual distractions!


Leta said...

Amazing - what is the world coming to? It's on a par with Hallelujah chorus by the silent monks...

daharja said...

Ummm, a hug in on a lawn? Tribal love rock oratorio? Switch on the nude scenes, maybe, for it to be a hit.

Because for me it sounds like - Messi-Hair!

[...grins, ducks, and runs]