Messiah (HWV 56) is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.
Part I (the Nativity) has opened The Villages Philharmonic Orchestra's holiday season every year since 2008. Messiah is George Friederich Handel's best-known composition. It has become one of the world's most frequently performed choral works, particularly popular during Advent season. Part I is divided into "scenes" composed of individual recitatives, in which the singer adopts a rhythm of ordinary speech, as well as arias and choruses. There are two instrumental numbers, the opening overture and the "pastoral symphony" at the mid-point of the work. The performance concludes with the jubilant Hallelujah Chorus accented by trumpets and timpani. The soprano returns for a final turn at the "Amen."
Oratorio Messiah differs from Handel's other oratorios in that it does not contain an encompassing narrative, instead it offers contemplation on different aspects of the Christian Messiah. The oratorio's structure follows the liturgical year: Part I corresponding with Advent, Christmas, and the life of Jesus. The birth and death of Jesus are told in the words of the prophet Isaiah, the most prominent source for the libretto. The only true "scene" of the oratorio is the annunciation to the shepherds which is taken from the Gospel of Luke. The imagery of shepherd and lamb features prominently in many movements. For example: in the aria "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd" (the only extended piece to talk about the Messiah on earth), in the opening of Part II ("Behold the Lamb of God"), in the chorus "All we like sheep", and in the closing chorus of the work "Worthy is the Lamb".
Julie Batman, Soprano
Emily Heumann, Alto
Daniel Bates, Tenor
Stephen Mumbert, Bass
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