Sydney’s Biggest Hallelujah! Handel: Messiah at the Sydney Opera House
Two hundred and eighty years after its first performance in Dublin in 1742, Handel’s Messiah remains one of the world’s most beloved pieces of classical music, sung by hundreds of thousands of singers around the world each Christmas.
In December, it comes to life in spectacular form, presented by Australia’s leading choral organization on the country’s most renowned concert stage, under the direction of the inimitable Brett Weymark.
With a sublime cast of soloists including Lorina Gora, Ashlyn Tymms – making her Sydney Opera House debut, Nicholas Jones and Morgan Pearse, and one of the most powerful Christmas choirs Sydney has ever seen, it will be a powerful season of performances.
Join the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs for this memorable performance of Messiah – premiering in the newly refurbished Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, at 8pm on Thursday 8th December, 1pm on Saturday and Sunday 10th and 11th December.
This year’s concerts mark 100 years of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs [or Hurlstone Park Choral Society as it was known then] Messiah was first performed in December 1922, and rest assured the work remains a highlight of Sydney’s concert calendar a century later with good reason.
Each year, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs invite members of the community to join their Christmas Choir, providing a rare opportunity to join forces with their auditioned singers, a professional orchestra and world-renowned soloists, for a series of concerts of Christmas, on a world-class concert stage.
A new partnership with the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music in 2022 has seen this Christmas choir swell to over 480 singers from Sydney and the Illawarra. Add Sydney Philharmonia’s own auditioned choirs to the mix, and special guest partners, Parramatta’s River City Voices, and an impressive choral force of nearly 700 singers will provide voice for the Messiah choirs.
If you’ve never heard a mass choir take over before, now is the perfect time to add it to your to-do list! Expect bright tunes, haunting harmonies, mighty choirs and concert hall crowds bustling with Christmas cheer.
Enjoying a live performance of Messiah at Christmas is as nostalgic as it is heartwarming; a must, for anyone longing for a hint of good old Christmas tradition.
We recommend booking now to guarantee your place and bring friends, children, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and anyone else whose heart needs a little warmth after too much. of special occasions spent at iso.
Come on Thursday evening 8th December and spend a night exploring Sydney’s Christmas lights, or for the weekend matinee performances on 10th and 11th December, and head to The Rocks Christmas Markets, where you you’re sure to find a roasted chestnut or two.
For those unfamiliar with Handel’s masterpiece, here are some fun facts about Messiah’s debut:
- Handel composed Messiah in just twenty-four days, an incredible feat, given that the original score is 259 pages.
- The work is an oratorio, which somewhat resembles an opera in that it is narrative driven but focuses solely on the performance of the musical work without the distraction of costume, setting or action . Unlike opera, an oratorio also usually tells a story from the Bible, rather than a racy story.
- Written in three parts, to depict the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Messiah was always intended for the Christian season of Lent. Almost 90 years after its first performance, the Victorians moved it to Christmas, to revive interest in this then neglected Christmas celebration.
- The work premiered in Dublin on April 13, 1742 and was presented as a benefit, with the funds raised being used to help some of the inmates stuck in debtor’s prison. Handel himself was in dire financial straits at the time, and his generosity was later profusely rewarded.
- Messiah’s first performance in London was not such a success – a disaster indeed. Society was outraged that this religious work was not performed in a church, but in a theater, and by lay singers at that. It wasn’t until Handel donated all the acts of a performance in 1750 to a charity – The Foundling Hospital for orphaned children – that London finally came into being.
- Handel continued to hold Messiah benefit concerts in the chapel of the Foundling Hospital for many years and is credited with artist William Hogarth as playing a vital role in helping philanthropist Thomas Coram achieve his vision of caring and to educate England’s most vulnerable citizens.
- After Handel’s death in 1759, Messiah took off like wildfire around the world – first performed in America in 1770, Germany in 1772 and traveling to Australia for a first performance in 1836.
- There is a curious tradition at Messiah performances of standing audiences for the famous Hallelujah Choir. It is said to have been started by King George II, who, on hearing the work for the first time, was so dazzled and overwhelmed with emotion that he jumped to his feet. Back then, when the king stood up, everyone stood up. However, this is almost certainly untrue: there is no evidence that George II ever attended a performance of the Messiah, and the earliest record of the audience standing “with the king” dates from 1780, when Handel and George II were both dead. These days it’s become a charming historical curiosity and a fun bit of public participation.
- All we can say is don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourself jumping out of your seat as well. You might be thinking “oh no, not me”, but like a scene from Stranger Things, singers and non-singers alike can’t help but be pulled to their feet in the heady atmosphere of a crowded concert hall. , under the spell of Handel’s most moving composition.
Founded in 1920, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs is Australia’s leading, largest and oldest choral organization, working with over 700 singers in six choirs.
Venue: Sydney Opera House| Concert hall
Dates: 08 – 11 December 2022
For more information click HERE