What’s Christmas without a little scandal? It’s so delicious to know that Handel’s Messiah was not originally intended to add sparkle to the holiday season, nor was it meant to become a warm hearted, fuzzy little yuletide tradition. The Messiah was designed to raise funds for Dublin charities, and early performances traditionally took place in the spring (thank you for the information, Program Note gods). Though that in itself is not particularly scandalous, it’s pretty fun to know that clergymen’s skin absolutely crawled at the notion of “biblical texts” being performed in “unsanctified” theaters. I was not aware of this last year…I was so innocent then.
History lesson aside, this was my second Messiah experience, but I must admit, I enjoyed it more than the first—and not solely due to the juicy history that I’ve discovered. Perhaps it was because I felt a bit more seasoned this year; for example, I knew that protocol prescribes standing during the “Hallelujah Chorus” (baby blogger is all grown up!). Indeed, I practically leapt out of my seat and bounced like a three-year-old in excitement. There is nothing, nothing, in this world that rivals hearing the “Hallelujah Chorus” live. Culture has inundated us by constantly packing it into commercials and movies…but truly, experiencing it in person, as performed by the Mendelssohn Choir, is breathtaking. Also, as I considered myself to now be “seasoned” (whatever that means), I was not surprised to hear the choir sing “His yoke is easy, and His burden is light” 300+ times (I was so annoyed with that last year!).
This time, this year, the Messiah was obviously the same, but I felt more. It felt so familiar, yet I picked up a great many nuances that I had missed last year. I seemed to be more open to the emotion. The spectacular Mendelssohn Choir’s voices were absolutely angelic. The pure hope and joy that have been masterfully woven into the music touched me. I need to experience the Messiah at least a million more times…and even then, it won’t be enough. I had a perma-grin for the rest of the evening after, as I exited Heinz Hall (so beautifully adorned in its lovely Christmas décor) in absolute euphoria. This petite Scroogette was almost tempted to bake cookies, or start her Christmas shopping…but we all know that the business is reserved for December 24.