Attended Handel's "Messiah" Last Night

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    Dec 20, 2014 5:31 PM GMT
    It was a gift for my husband and me. We were dead center in orchestra seating, just a few rows back, directly behind the conductor. A nearly 3000-seat house, and sold out, the 2nd-level mezzanine seats were selling for more than $100, I can only imagine what ours cost, best in the house. We owe our benefactor a dinner when next we see her.

    Fairly good performance. Certainly not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but got the final holiday push off to a nice start.
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    Dec 20, 2014 5:47 PM GMT
    Lucky you! Huddersfield Choral Society (from my home town in Yorkshire) do a renowned annual performance, which I was lucky enough to attend one year..


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    Dec 20, 2014 5:58 PM GMT
    Your audience appears to be seated. About ⅔ of our audience stood for the Hallelujah, a very silly custom. Which we declined to follow, remaining seated.
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    Dec 20, 2014 6:08 PM GMT
    Oh they stand alright. I was seated in the front row and it took me completely by surprise. I just stood and mimed haplessly. It was still worth it though, as they are as good as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
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    Dec 20, 2014 6:43 PM GMT
    Standing just to commemorate the fact that King George had to go pee in the middle of the Hallelujah does seem more than a bit ridiculous to me (or so the legend goes). If anyone had complained to me I would've conked them with my cane! I've learned the fine art of exploiting my decrepitude. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Dec 20, 2014 7:04 PM GMT
    It was originally performed in taverns, because the church deemed it too festive and decadent to be allowed in churches or the palace.

    (Quite likely some official just didn't like the Germans, and was throwing his weight around.)
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    Dec 20, 2014 8:34 PM GMT
    mindgarden saidIt was originally performed in taverns, because the church deemed it too festive and decadent to be allowed in churches or the palace.

    (Quite likely some official just didn't like the Germans, and was throwing his weight around.)

    Handel previously had been Kapellmeister to German prince George, the Elector of Hanover, who in 1714 would become King George I of Great Britain and Ireland. Handel wrote his Water Music and Royal Fireworks Music for King George. It's difficult to believe any German prejudice would have been tolerated against Handel, the royal court's favorite composer, since the King himself was German.

    The very first public performance of Messiah used 2 Cathedral choirs. But public musical performances always were in venues outside churches, not because the church disapproved of the content per se, but because non-liturgical music was not performed in churches (even a royal coronation was a religious rite). Music wasn't played if it wasn't part of the church service; a church couldn't be used for purely musical entertainment, regardless of the material's lofty biblical subject matter.

    Furthermore, Handel charged admission, it's one of the ways composers earned their keep, in addition to aristocratic patronage. It simply wasn't permissible for a church in that era to charge the public admission for a profit motive, regardless of the entertainment's content.

    No tavern would have accommodated the number of musicians & singers needed, nor the audience to make a profit. I have read no such reports of the first performances of the Messiah. The large public halls used may have been multi-purpose, leading to that misinterpretation.
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    Dec 20, 2014 9:13 PM GMT
    Has been a long time since I read that reference but it was in a biography of Handel.

    Interesting. Wikipedia has a somewhat different story. Says it was sung by 16 men, 16 boys, and two women.
    The author might have inferred this from some documents related to the Dublin performances and I am mis-remembering the details over 35 years.
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    Dec 21, 2014 12:45 AM GMT
    I've sung that oratorio over 40 times in performance---when you count rehearsals, probably 400 times. I still never tire of it. It was the piece most requested when we toured Europe (even though we didn't always program it---even we got tired of doing nothing else).
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    Dec 21, 2014 12:54 AM GMT
    mindgarden saidHas been a long time since I read that reference but it was in a biography of Handel.

    Interesting. Wikipedia has a somewhat different story. Says it was sung by 16 men, 16 boys, and two women.
    The author might have inferred this from some documents related to the Dublin performances and I am mis-remembering the details over 35 years.

    You are correct about the singers, and it being the Dublin debut. The singers came from 2 church choruses, boys and men, plus the female soloists.
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    Dec 21, 2014 1:06 AM GMT
    Sharkspeare saidI've sung that oratorio over 40 times in performance---when you count rehearsals, probably 400 times. I still never tire of it. It was the piece most requested when we toured Europe (even though we didn't always program it---even we got tired of doing nothing else).

    I have performed on that same stage, so it was a change for me to be on the other side in the audience the other night. The Broward Center, you likely know it.

    We would have invited you, as we have before, but these 2 tickets were gifts to us. From someone up where you live.
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    Dec 22, 2014 12:12 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    Sharkspeare saidI've sung that oratorio over 40 times in performance---when you count rehearsals, probably 400 times. I still never tire of it. It was the piece most requested when we toured Europe (even though we didn't always program it---even we got tired of doing nothing else).

    I have performed on that same stage, so it was a change for me to be on the other side in the audience the other night. The Broward Center, you likely know it.

    We would have invited you, as we have before, but these 2 tickets were gifts to us. From someone up where you live.

    Oh and by the way----yes, that whole standing up thing is idiotic and I can tell you firsthand that it annoys the SHIT out of the performers.
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    Dec 23, 2014 5:28 AM GMT
    Art_Deco saidIt was a gift for my husband and me. We were dead center in orchestra seating, just a few rows back, directly behind the conductor. A nearly 3000-seat house, and sold out, the 2nd-level mezzanine seats were selling for more than $100, I can only imagine what ours cost, best in the house. We owe our benefactor a dinner when next we see her.

    Fairly good performance. Certainly not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but got the final holiday push off to a nice start.


    Is it typical to be charging that much for mezzanine level seats? Seems kind of steep. My tickets to Wicked were lower than that but then again, Messiah is not a broadway production.
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    Dec 23, 2014 3:30 PM GMT
    Sharkspeare said
    Art_Deco said
    Sharkspeare saidI've sung that oratorio over 40 times in performance---when you count rehearsals, probably 400 times. I still never tire of it. It was the piece most requested when we toured Europe (even though we didn't always program it---even we got tired of doing nothing else).

    I have performed on that same stage, so it was a change for me to be on the other side in the audience the other night. The Broward Center, you likely know it.

    We would have invited you, as we have before, but these 2 tickets were gifts to us. From someone up where you live.

    Oh and by the way----yes, that whole standing up thing is idiotic and I can tell you firsthand that it annoys the SHIT out of the performers.

    Well I almost stood, but just because the other people standing in front of me were blocking my view, and some of the sound quality. I'm stubborn, though, not to mention an effort for me to stand in those narrow rows. I stood for a final ovation, but then we remained standing to leave, which we had to do anyway.
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    Dec 23, 2014 7:45 PM GMT
    For decades one of the large, mainline local churches here has held a free, sing-along Messiah, complete with an orchestra, with over 700 participants and with the church filled to capacity. It is one of the early events of the start of the Christmas season around here. There are plenty of local professional musicians to sing the solos and to staff the orchestra. It's a nice tradition.
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    Dec 23, 2014 10:37 PM GMT
    Sulla saidFor decades one of the large, mainline local churches here has held a free, sing-along Messiah, complete with an orchestra, with over 700 participants and with the church filled to capacity. It is one of the early events of the start of the Christmas season around here. There are plenty of local professional musicians to sing the solos and to staff the orchestra. It's a nice tradition.

    Don't know if they still do it, but at CAMI Hall in New York City, there used to be a full summer program of "summer sings". Full orchestra would play an entire oratorio and audience members would be the chorus. If you didn't have a score, they'd sell you one at cost right as you entered. They were great fun.