“But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire…” (Book of Malachi, 3:2)
The Choral Music Festival The Different. 2
at the Novaya Opera will end with one of Handel’s signature vocal and choral compositions, Messiah
Handel wrote this grandious composition in three parts in just 24 days in the summer of 1741. No sooner had he read Charles Jennens’ libretto than he began work – it seemed that a voice from above dictated to him the numerous arias, recitatives, duets and choruses. “Only one who has suffered deeply knows joy; only one who has been through tribulations can guess at the ultimate mercy of forgiveness. And it is for him to bear witness to the resurrection before men, for his sake who died.” (The Resurrection of George Frideric Handel by Stefan Zweig).
The plot of the oratorio is based on texts from the King James Bible (a collection of Books of the Old and New Testaments) of the early 17th century: God-sent Messiah should make his main way: from the birth to the resurrection and victory over death and sin. The famous Hallelujah chorus is the triumphant culmination of the heroic ascension and victory of the “King of Kings and Lord of lords”.
The oratorio was premiered at a charity concert in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and was an enormous success.
Jan Latham-Koenig, conductor:
“Handel's “Messiah” will always remain for me one of the key works which inspired me to become a conductor. As I first heard and sang the “Messiah” as a small boy aged twelve, I was thunderstruck by the drama and beauty of the music as in fact there is distinctly an operatic element to the oratorio, quite natural in view of Handel's experience in that field. But the constant inspiration of the composition together with the remarkable speed, at which it was written, makes me think that there was an almost supernatural element, particularly as we know that before he received the libretto from Jennens he was profoundly ill and depressed. However, what makes me always so glad to conduct it is remembering the outstanding short story of Stefan Zweig about the composition of the “Messiah”. It is entitled “The Resurrection of George Frideric Handel”. I advise everybody in the audience to read it.”