George Frederic Handel 23rd of February 1685, Halle, Germany to 14th of April 1759, London, England.
The last performance Handel ever attended was of Messiah, he was buried in Westminster Abbey. More than three thousand mourners attended his funeral, which was given full state honours.
In 2009 the Smithsonian wrote this lovely piece: George Frideric Handel's Messiah was originally an Easter offering. It burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The audience swelled to a record 700, as ladies had heeded pleas by management to wear dresses "without Hoops" in order to make "Room for more company." Handel's superstar status was not the only draw; many also came to glimpse the contralto, Susannah Cibber, then embroiled in a scandalous divorce. The men and women in attendance sat mesmerized from the moment the tenor followed the mournful string overture with his piercing opening line: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." Soloists alternated with wave upon wave of chorus, until, near the midway point, Cibber intoned: "He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." So moved was the Rev. Patrick Delany that he leapt to his feet and cried out: "Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!"
Now, of course, Messiah is a fixture of the Christmas season. Woe to the concert hall in the United States or Britain that fails to schedule the piece around the holiday, when, as well, CD sales and Web downloads of the oratorio soar. For many amateur choirs, the work is the heart of their repertoire and the high point of the year. In most of Handel's oratorios, the soloists dominate and the choir sings only brief choruses. But in Messiah, says Laurence Cummings, director of the London Handel Orchestra, "the chorus propels the work forward with great emotional impact and uplifting messages."
This year, the 250th anniversary of Handel's death, has been a boon to the Baroque composer and his best-known work. The commemoration has centred in London, where Handel lived for 49 years, until his death in 1759 at age 74. The BBC has broadcast all of his operas, more than 40 in total, and every one of the composer's keyboard suites and cantatas was performed during the annual London Handel Festival, which included concerts at St. George's Hanover Square church, where Handel worshiped, and at the Handel House Museum ("See Handel Slept Here,"), long time residence of the man that Ludwig van Beethoven himself, citing Messiah, said was the "greatest composer that ever lived."
To us, our safe arrival in Sydney [although we ended up falling short and running for Newcastle – but hey, we overnight tomorrow so we will be here on Tuesday morning] warranted a special event to mark what we feel is a bit of an achievement. Today, the 6th of December 2015 heralds exactly seven and a half years and twenty five thousand, one hundred and seventy nine point eight two nautical miles since we began this At-Venture of ours. Handel’s Messiah seemed so right for the occasion.
Our present to each other and Beez Neez – at Sydney Opera House.
Leaving the little hire car in the Opera House car park – all very simple and efficient, we walked out into the sunshine to take in the ambience of the cafes and bars along the waterfront. A celebratory libation and what a smashing sight to see Bear sitting with the iconic building beside him.
I had to pose too, then we went inside the amazing building and once again found the efficiency so smooth. We found the collection booth, handed over the booking number and the credit card we had used and there they were – our tickets. We also collected our tickets for the Best of Opera for the 27th of December. We had a little time before the doors opened so we had a look around the little shop. Well colour me happy – a Pandora Opera House. Bear treated me to it immediately and then we went up the stairs for a drink and snack. One of the choir saw me about to take a picture of Bear and offered to take one of the two of us together.
Our pre show treats and Maltesers to take in with us. Many auditoriums charge silly prices for sandwiches, not here – we thought three pounds was not unreasonable. Programs are not really useful for boat dwellers and are often ten to twenty pounds – here it was two pounds fifty. Beside another choir member had a medical dog with smashing boots on.
No photography signs didn’t stop me asking the lady who was pointing out seats to patrons. Its just one for the blog “Of course you can, but I didn’t see you...........” Bear poses. WOW. The two circle boxes each side of the extended stage would fill with members of the choir.