Opera Daily 🎶 — The magic of Handel's Messiah
This week's Opera Daily features the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah
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Greetings, fellow music lovers!
Are you ready to experience one of the world’s most famous and well-known pieces of classical music? If so, then you are in luck because today, I will be sharing the famous “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel's Messiah.
But first, a quick announcement.
This post will be our last one for 2022. I will be taking off the rest of the year to recharge and refocus for next year. I look forward to returning in January with new ideas and directions for Opera Daily. As always, I would love to hear your comments, thoughts, or requests. Just reply to this email.
Best wishes to all of you for a beautiful holiday season.
Now let’s get to the Messiah!
For those who may not be familiar with Handel's Messiah, it is an incredible work composed by Handel in the 18th century. The piece is a sacred oratorio that tells the story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, and it features some of the most beautiful and moving choruses in all classical music.
One of the most famous ones is the “Hallelujah Chorus”. This chorus has been performed and enjoyed by people worldwide and has become an iconic piece of music closely associated with the holiday season.
Audiences tend to stand during performances of the “Hallelujah Chorus” — a tradition that allegedly began when King George II stood up during the chorus at the oratorio’s debut London performance.
🎧 Listen here (4 minute listen): The Royal Choral Society singing Handel's Messiah, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, April 6, 2012. This clip features the “Hallelujah Chorus” with the choir performing under Music Director, Richard Cooke. Students from the City of London School for Girls joined the choir for this performance.
Want a complete performance of Handel’s Messiah? I recommend this one!
I don’t want to forget Charles Jennen, a close friend of Handel’s who wrote the libretto for Messiah and the texts for several of Handel's other works. Jennen was an important figure in the history of classical music, and his contributions to Handel’s works helped to make them some of the most enduring and beloved pieces in the classical repertoire.
Messiah was composed in just 24 days (although I have also read 18 days!) Handel wrote the entire oratorio in an intense burst of creativity, finishing the work in just three weeks.
Messiah was first performed in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742. It was originally intended for Lent (but it got moved to Christmas). Like most pieces I write about here, it was not an immediate success. Despite its initial popularity in Dublin, the oratorio was not well-received in London, where it was first performed in 1743. It was only in a revival of the work in 1750 that it began to gain widespread recognition and popularity.
Handel originally wrote the Messiah for a charity concert. The proceeds from the first performance were used to fund education and healthcare for the poor in Dublin.
Thank you for reading (and listening), and feel free to reply with feedback or leave a comment. I would love to hear about your favorite recording of Handel’s Messiah.
“See” you next year!
PS. If you missed last week’s selection, we featured the Zürich Opera House, Handel and Vals Thermal Baths by Peter Zumthor
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Years after singing it with St. Benedicts Glee Club at Port Authority and Newark airport, I was a guest of Aer Lingus in Dublin. While in Dublin, I searched out the Protestant Church where Handel played the organ. The rector in the Church was nasty and rude. Then he showed me the skeleton of a man chained in a cell downstairs. Ugh. The Jon Vickers CD is astounding and also the one by Colin Davis. Hallelujah, Merry Christmas or Buon Natale.
We were at Tosca at the LA Opera on Wednesday, it was awesome! Really worthwhile.