Wow – what an evening!
The Glyndebourne Tour 2021 appear at Norwich Theatre Royal for the start of the theatre’s autumn season of opera and perform their premiere of Handel’s Messiah.
The title gives the theme away – it is the story of the coming of God: the wicked will be punished and the righteous exhausted. Earth rejoices with the coming of Christ (the Messiah) and the miracles he performs. Christ is rejected and his suffering redeem s the sins of mankind. He is crucified, resurrected and raised to the heavens to live with the angels. With thanksgiving to God in giving his Son to redeem mankind: Christ, the Lamb, was sacrificed for the sake of man and shall be praised forever.
This choral performance is incredible. This orchestral performance is incredible.
What I loved about this performance at Norwich Theatre Royal is the accessibility. The words are in English, this helps newcomers to opera to keep track of the story plus the words are on display above the stage which is totally awesome. The words are scriptural text complied by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the Coverdale Psalter, the version of the Psalms included with the Book of the Common Prayer, and are slightly clunky in places due to the translation, however it opens these performances to those who have never been to something like this before.
The 32-strong choir and soloists are on stage for the complete performance, with the soloists coming centre stage for their pieces.
This is an emotive, dramatic and passionate performance with an amazing mix of voices and instruments which tingle every cell in your body. The meld of sounds is something to behold. The stage lighting is subtle and changes with the emotions of the story, for example, black when the story reaches the point where Christ is being despised and rejected and golden light is used when everyone is rejoicing.
The soloists were phenomenal. At one point, the darkest point of the story, Stephanie Wake-Edwards sings one word at a time, with a couple of violin notes, this sent shivers down the spine and the whole auditorium was so silent as we absorbed this incredible moment. Then we have the rejoicing with every voice and every instrument powering out to an astonishing sound. You could not help but be moved by it.
You do not need to be religious to watch this opera, this is an experience that everyone at some point in their lives should have. It’s moving, spiritual, it’s phenomenal, it’s uplifting, it’s joyous – opera is accessible to all when it’s performed in this way.
The stunning evening by the Glyndebourne Tour includes many people behind the scenes, however special mention to the following:
Conductor: Aidan Oliver
Orchestra Leader: Richard Milone
Soprano – Carrie-Ann Williams
Mezzo-Soprano – Stephanie Wake-Edwards
Tenor – Stuart Jackson
Bass – James Platt
Photo Credit: Richard Hubert Smith
This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE