by Nicholas Jones
Handel’s Messiah premiered in a music hall, not in a church. The lead singers included at that first Dublin benefit included some of the most important eighteenth-century names in musical theater. And yet we continue to think of the work as if it belonged in a church service.
This year’s performance by Apollo’s Fire shook off that preconception about Messiah. Jeannette Sorrell led a highly dramatic rendering of the piece that made the most of the theatrical basis of the music.]
In the very first recitative, the expressive tenor Karim Sulayman (singing, as did all the soloists, from memory) embodied the contrast between the salvation that Messiah was to bring—”Comfort ye,” he sang, with heart-piercing compassion—and the world’s “iniquity” that is in such need of salvation. [Read more…]