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Handel: Messiah

32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

To mark the 250th anniversary of Handel's death, Vienna's Theater an der Wien realized a truly extraordinary project: the staging of Messiah, the composer's most popular oratorio. Collaborating with an exquisite cast of singers, Claus Guth, one of today's highly renowned stage directors, delivered 'an emotionally and psychologically charged sequence of images. . . The audience was thrilled' (Suddeutsche Zeitung).

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Croft, Bejun Mehta, Florian Boesch, Ensemble Matheus, Jean-Christophe Spinosi
  • Directors: Claus Guth, Hannes Rossacher
  • Writers: George Frideric Handel
  • Producers: Theater an der Wien
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.0), English (PCM2 .0)
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: C Major Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 2010
  • Run Time: 154 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003UIGZM6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,963 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Archie (Ottawa Canada) on December 25, 2010
Format: Blu-ray
I watched this Production last night, Christmas Eve; and I am writing my review on Christmas Day -- so I am well aware of the spiritual and religious meaning of Handel's Messiah. The texts submitted to Handel by Jennens struck a deep chord with him because he was going through a very difficult time in his own life. He was so inspired by the message with its final hope that he wrote this profound work in three weeks. That is why I think that he would approve of this secularisation of the drama within the music and text of the spiritual oratorio

Let me start by stating that musically this is the best performance of The Messiah that I am ever likely to see or hear. Jean Christoph Spinosi and his award-winning baroque-specialising Ensemble Matheus give an exciting and nuanced orchestral accompaniment to what is happening on stage. The five soloists are up to the same standard musically, and in their acting as well. They vocally change the usual oratorial interpretation to emotionally suit the action -- and it works. And of course, there is the splendid Arnold Schoenberg choir. The rotating stage allows for seamless appropriate scene changes. Great praise is due to all concerned. I could go on at length about the overt performance, but there is another issue I would prefer to focus upon.

I am not surprised that some people are offended by what Claus Guth has done with this very different presentation of the Messiah. To many, this is a sacred work that should not be messed with. But bear in mind that people with similar beliefs were greatly offended in much the same way when Handel decided to present it in a theatre and not in a church "where it belongs". Times and attitudes change, and artistic interpretations change along with it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By sdone on March 28, 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Some would take this production of Handel's immortal classic as blasphemous and downright vulgar and some reviewers have listed it as such, calling it trash. Perhaps it is not for the faint of heart or those who do not want to be challenged. As I viewed it my emotions ran the gamut as I tried to piece together what it really meant. One cannot view it and not be aroused, touched, even awakened anew to the meaning of the message. I am not sure what the intent of Clause Guth was when he put together this very different presentation of Messiah. I have seen and listened to this oratorio countless times by many different choruses, live and recorded, making a point to do it at least once each Christmas AND Easter. At age 70 I have heard it, savored it, loved it and sung it, but only to myself countless times. This is without doubt my favorite piece of sacred music, so I approached this work with some trepidation, having read the reviews. I would consider myself conservative in my religious views.
I, like others, believe that the musicality of this performance and its production is among the best I have ever heard. I watched the Blu-ray version and it was truly spectacular, both visually and the audio, surround sound. The Ensemble Matheus under the direction of Jean Christoph Spinosi was without peer. Each of the soloists was perfect for their parts, singing and acting. One can refer to other excellent reviews for comments on the specific singers and their performances with which I generally concur wholeheartedly.
I wondered as the visual images unfolded on the stage. Of course I had never before seen it performed in this manner.
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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Cy Reese on December 5, 2010
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I have numerous recordings of Handel's "Messiah" and have attended live performances of this masterpiece and based on that I can say that the singing in this production is impeccable. The fact that it employs only about fifty vocalists rather than a massed or massive choir turns out to be a big plus. The lyrics are crystal clear and beautifully sung, while the musicians play with obvious devotion - yes, devotion! After all, this is a sacred oratorio. Or is it? This is the reason I cannot give the production a full five stars, indeed, not even four. While the intention of making "Messiah" relevant to a modern day situation is laudable, the situation chosen is depressing. Worse: what exactly is the connection between the portrayed suicide and his family's reaction to the biblical message of the Messiah? Are we equating the suicide victim - the dancer in the production - with Christ? Are we to believe that this suicide is on a divine mission to save mankind? Why was a bed scene with a woman stripping to her negligee deemed "inspirational"? What exactly moves the actor-singers in the play to believe in the Resurrection? The drama portrayed does not make it clear. In brief, the musical performance would make for a top-drawer CD, but one hopes that the next operatic treatment of the oratorio will respect it's sacred character in a better thought-out libretto.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By JS on October 15, 2010
Format: Blu-ray
Vienna's Theater an der Wien shattered every preconception about how to stage Messiah and the results are stunning! This theatrical production of Messiah, for all its unorthodox staging, remains exquisitely faithful to the traditional musical arrangement. The orchestra and chorus deliver the perfect Messiah-- hitting all the notes exactly as fans like and expect. For an Austrian cast, the English enunciation and intonation are flawless.

The last time I saw Messiah at the Lincoln Center, it felt dated and forced-- This production is breathtaking and refreshing. The costumes, blocking, and set pieces bring an exciting new energy to the great oratorio.

The Blu-Ray edition presents stunning archival quality HD sound and images-- you can see wisps of hair, wrinkles in clothing, and the detailed texture of wool coats. This disc is destined to become the must-have classic performance collectible of the year.
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