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Handel: Messiah

4.0 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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(Sep 28, 2010)
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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


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:
    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: #158,357 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: DVD
This is a Vienna 2010 production, dramatising Handel's oratorio 'Messiah'.
Of all Handel's oratorios, most probably 'Messiah' is the most difficult to stage otherwise than as a concert.
This modern production has indeed achieved the impossible by courageously set the background in a family tragedy. Most of the times the lyrics matched the story plot literally; at other times more configuratively, so it needs a good amount of patience and a big stretch of imagination to follow along. It is not those 'sit back and relax' type of production. Rather, it is provocative, imaginative, and even spiritual - yes, spiritual. It requires some viewers who have undergone some sort of family tragedy to fully savour the emotional aspects of this dramatised version. Otherwise, those with sufficient sympathetic constitutions could appreciate, but honestly, not others.
As a musical production, this performance is out and out a five-star stuff.
The silent 'hero', portrayed by dancer Paul Lorengar, committed suicide and is dead in the opening scene. Soon afterwards the flashback begins, accounting for the reason of his suicide.
As his brother, Bejun Mehta, the altist, committed adultery with the wife of Paul Lorengar, soprano II and sung by Cornelia Horak, perhaps the only vocal 'weak-link'. Florian Boesch, friend of Paul Lorengar, sings the bass part with aplomb. The preacher father is tenor Richard Croft, who gives a vocal masterclass in his highly polished performance. Susan Gritton as soprano I sings her arias with real aplomb. The chorus sing and perform in equal great strengths. The conducting of Jean Christophe Spinosi here is about the best ever I've got from him!
The silent actress Nadia Kichler speaks in sign language.
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