The Playhouse Company is bringing back Handel’s Messiah for an Easter Sunday matinee performance on 1 April at 3pm.
Directed by theatre luminary Ralph Lawson, the Company’s grandly staged production in Durban’s Opera Theatre features popular soloists, Khumbuzile Dhlamini (soprano), Violina Anguelov (mezzo), Thabiso Masemene (tenor) and Aubrey Lodewyk (baritone), with the 40-strong Playhouse Chorale and members of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, performing under the baton of English conductor, Tim Murray.
Director, Ralph Lawson shared his thoughts about the staging of the great work, which has become the world’s most frequently performed choral masterpiece since it was performed in Dublin in April 1742.
“It's wonderful to have the opportunity to work on a semi-staged version of Messiah, a work of genius that, on every hearing of it (even at rehearsal), bestows a glow of marvelous well-being. The thing that appeals to me most about the work and which I'm trying to bring out in the staging of it, is Handel's humanity, which really infuses the work and makes a version like this possible.” he said.
“He was, we are told, profoundly generous and donated regularly to retired musicians, to orphans and to the ill. He gave some of the proceeds from the debut performance to a debtors' prison and a hospital in Dublin. His annual benefit concerts always included Messiah and proceeds went to his favourite charity, a home for abandoned children called the Foundling Hospital in London. And he left the bulk of his considerable estate to charity and to his servants.”
“This quality imbues the work, and, in directing it, I've sought to bring it out through the singers’ approach to the text - in other words, to get them to engage emotionally with it rather than reproduce it somewhat technically as they might do in a conventional oratorio performance. For unlike his great contemporary, Bach, whose oratorios exalted God, Handel wrote about human beings' response to God. In this way he can really lift the spirits, because he is writing about human beings for human beings. Small wonder that Beethoven considered Handel ‘the greatest composer that ever lived.’”
Joining the conversation, conductor Tim Murray said this production was one of his formative musical experiences as a child.
"As a boy chorister I was singing Messiah on tour in Holland with the Hannover Band, conductor Roy Goodman and a wonderful group of soloists. It was the late 1980s, and the historically informed style, on original instruments, was long-established, yet in the context of an old-fashioned British choir school it still had a somewhat radical edge.Fast forward thirty years and I am still on tour! As Associate Music Director of Cape Town Opera I am lucky enough to work regularly with South African voices,"he said.
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