December 20, 2005

We Saw the Messiah

Last night, before NYC MTA delivered its apocolyptic strike, Jon and I went with a couple of friends to see Handel's Messiah at Carnegie Hall. My uncle is a member of the Oratorio Society of New York and I've been going to see him perform the Messiah since even before he was a member of the society. Last night, I think may have been the last time I go see it. Now don't get me wrong. It's a beautiful piece of music but it's kind of slow and even though Carnegie Hall is the best place in the world to see chorale music performed, it's often crowded and uncomfortable.

Our party decided we would leave after the famous Hallelujah chorus. The thing is with the Messiah is there is a lot and I mean a lot of repetition. So, if a passage is slow there is a good chance that it is going to be slow for at least 5 minutes (which in Messiah time feels like half an hour) because the passage will be repeated about 6 times. There was one point where the Mezzo Soprano repeated the phrase "acquainted with grief" about 15 times during one of her solos. When she was done I whispered to Jon "Now we're all acquainted with grief". It was a particularly ponderous passage. While watching the performers I had a wicked thought - that Handel knew his piece was slow but still wanted people to hear it so he buried the most popular and entertaining part, the Hallelujah Chorus at the end of the second movement.

What would have improved my experience greatly was watching the performance from the comfort of the big bed I share with Jon. I was pooped by the time we got to Carnegie Hall. I had had a particularly draining day both emotionally and intellectually. But it was nice to get out. I've been a little complacent lately - staying indoors, keeping to myself.

Here we are outside Carnegie Hall after escaping from the Messiah.

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