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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).
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Top Customer Reviews
The sound quality, picture and all the performances are top notch. Try hearing it with with a good sound system or some very good earphones it sounds amazing. I can go on about how wonderful this production is.
I want to also add how much I enjoy listening to Floians performance during Darkness shall cover the Earth, especially when he sings But the Lord Shall rise upon thee and his glory be seen upon thee, wow when the Orchestra crasendos with him, it sounds amazing, very moving.
When you hear this production I find it difficult to listen to anything afterwards.
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. Did Handel himself ever actually have this in mind since he did not have it performed in churches, but theaters, both in Dublin and London, and even some of his original performers were singing actresses.
Here is where this performance derives its greatest criticism and its greatest revolutionary appeal. Some find it offensive because it humanizes this grand and sacred work. That is where Claus Guth shows his genius. Jesus himself did not go to the established religious leaders, but instead offended most of them because he went to the sinners. He said the well have no need of the physician but the sick. He held out hope the the woman taken in sin and in the house of Simon it was the woman who washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair that truly showed her love, not Simon.
When most of Europe wallows in religious apathy Guth brings this sacred work to the people where they can both see it and feel it, a part of their lives, something with which they can identify. No cathedral, synagogue or mosque, but an adulterer's bed, infidelity, disappointment in work and life and lost love, things everyone faces. Can Messiah reach one in those depths?
One brother angry (Boesch,) one despondent (Lorenger,) one devious (Bejun,) all disappointed and in need. Two wives (Gritton and Horak) betrayed and also in need and does this not reflect society? Did not He, Messiah, come to these? The church man seeks to console the people, but always a bit too little, a bit too late and much hand wringing on his part (Croft) well portrayed.
Through it all is woven the angelic messenger-like thread of the (to the performers) unseen and (to us) unheard, beautiful Nadia Kichler, who in unknown, but beautifully expressive gestures, and probably intentionally not subtitled, gives us to know that much of religious truth seems to miss us completely. Was she signing what the singers were saying or was there another message completely? Angel or prophet, we are left to guess what her message was, but is that not the real message? To what depth does one take it? Does one really know and appreciate the meaning of the work? This, or the original? I gain new insight each time I view or listen to this wonderful music.
This performance was an allegory, although one has said it was not. It is an allegory for all of us. We all suffer on one plane or another as they we watched did. We all live our our lives seeing or not seeing, hearing or not hearing. Is it a type for the Christ? He voluntarily gave His life. Some see it as futile, some see it as genuinely salvific. It depends upon one's point of view how it effects one's life. I think the same is true of this version of Messiah. It depends upon one's point of view as to how it effects one.
Eurotrash, one says. Truly enlightening? Do not forget that Jesus was ignored by the established religion of His day and he went to the downtrodden and rejected and offered them hope.
I will watch it again and again and I am sure I will gain more from it in each viewing.
This review could easily become the length of a thesis, so I'll stop, but with the strong suggestion that you get this offering. If you haven't already done so and wish to, you may be able to hear and see excerpts of diminished technical quality by entering "Spinosi Messiah"on the search engine of your choice.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Of all Handel's oratorios, most probably 'Messiah' is the most difficult to stage otherwise than as...Read more
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