If I’m honest, I felt a bit intimidated sitting down to write this review. I’m definitely not what you might consider to be an authority on this topic.
However, our visit to the Liverpool Empire to see Glyndebourne on Tour was not at all intimidating or stuffy. I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone as it really was a beautiful start to our Christmas season. We visited the performance of Handel’s Messiah. Not knowing at all what to expect, other than a familiarity with the Hallelujah chorus from adverts and movies (shockingly poor culture levels I know). It felt like a very ‘grown-up’ way to spend an evening. It was a perfect date night and something I definitely hope to do more of in 2022.
Messiah is a very understated work. It is an oratorio which means an opera without sets, costumes or acting. It is a celebration of the music, atmospheric and pure. It moved me to remember the power of a choir and orchestra and the joy of hearing people sing together.
The chorus is centre stage, framed by four soloists. There is no ego to this performance. It is simply a showcase of this beautiful composition and the singers that bring it to life. The emotion, drama and desperation of the music is incredibly lifted by the oh so simple light screen behind the choir. The shift of colour as the story is told lifts the voices and delighted my eyes as well as my ears. It was so understated and yet so moving and thoughtful. It felt mindful and calming.
The light screen shifted to a rich gold backdrop, signalling the Hallelujah chorus and the entire auditorium got to their feet. This was the moment I had been hoping to experience and it didn’t disappoint. The swell of voices, lyrical trumpet and feeling of being in the moment was quite magical.
All too soon, the choir sang their ‘Amens.’ I was surprised to feel so moved by a piece of choral music. The soloists joined the choir for the crescendo and I could in that moment understand both their faith and their passion. I could have listened to that for so much longer.
Although a deeply religious work, it was open to all and it was easy to be wrapped up in the spiritual performance. The Messiah is entirely in English and the subtitles made it easy to follow the story of Jesus’ life through his prophesy, birth, death and resurrection drawn from the Old and New Testaments.
I would highly recommend a visit to Glyndebourne, or the chance to see their team on tour. It may be a step out of your comfort zone, but it wasn’t elitist or exclusive. It was an unexpectedly calm and restoring evening and we left feeling totally refreshed.