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This evening's treat was a performance of Handel's Messiah at the ENO, courtesy of the kind offices of [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist. I enjoyed it thoroughly; the staging was mostly underwhelming (admittedly, I have high standards - it was by no means bad) with some standout points. The high point of the evening, for me, was seeing Sophie Bevan (soprano) singing I Know That My Redeemer Liveth flat on her back in a hospital bed, surrounded by rows of corpses on plexiglass biers. Which then woke up slowly while Brindley Sherratt (bass) sang Behold, I Tell You A Mystery. I'm not nearly educated enough to be able to comment on the music, beyond having enjoyed it immensely, so I shall comment on the theatrical aspects instead.

Technically, it was good, though using a mirror-shiny floor was a Brave Decision - and anything shiny enough to send reflections into the dome of the Coliseum is SHINY. It takes quite a bit of technical skill to combine that and Stage Clutter with gauze and front projection, but they pulled it off, and despite the reflectivity the production didn't even come close to looking too polished and glittery.

They didn't go for a continuous visual narrative, which was sensible; doing that would have come rather too close to dumb-show, and detracted from the focus on the music. Instead, we had the principal singers enacting a few scenes here and there, and a lot of interesting but not obtrusive group action for the rest of it.

Date: 2009-12-12 03:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] weegoddess.livejournal.com
I sooo love 'Messiah'. I was wishing I could find a performance around here...but it sounds like your experience beat anything that they'd do here.

Date: 2009-12-12 07:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miss-next.livejournal.com
Each to their own! I have to say I thoroughly dislike stagey versions; I want to be able to concentrate on the music. The last Messiah I went to was absolutely wonderful, but if I'd known about Catherine King's rather startling lipliner in advance, I'd have chosen to sit a couple of rows further back than I did, because I found even that a little distracting.

Startling lipliner or not, though, I do recommend hearing her. She is an outstanding mezzo.

Date: 2009-12-12 09:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jacquic.livejournal.com
I'm afraid that my first thought about the shiny floor was wondering if I could see up anyone's skirt.

But I thought it was great in general, too: I loved that aria from the hospital bed.

Date: 2009-12-12 12:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-alchemist.livejournal.com
Glad you enjoyed it.

Deborah Warner (the director) comes from a Quaker background, though I'm not sure to what extent she identifies as Quaker nowadays, and said that had really informed her interpretation.

My favourite bit was I Know that My Redeemer Liveth too.

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