WED: 14º/7º THU: 13º/3º
More anthropological than divine
Christmas comes early this year if you associate Händel’s ‘Messiah’ with Yuletide, but this is one present you won’t be keeping to show your friends on Boxing Day. The Royal Danish Opera has taken the rather untraditional step of turning the composer’s most famous oratorio into a two-hour opera, and it’s difficult to understand why it bothered. So if you thought you were going to get an early dose of festive cheer, think again and wait for the real McCoy in two months time.
Saying that, the music remains magical. The chorus was splendid and there were the obligatory goose bumps when they broke into ‘Hallelujah’. Likewise the soloists sang beautifully – the bass, Florian Plock, and mezzo soprano, Hanne Fischer, especially made lasting impressions. And the orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, conducted by Lars Ulrik Mortensen, confidently accompanied the singing – despite a few bum notes from the trumpet.
So given the beautiful singing and music – what’s not to like? In a nutshell: the direction by Australia’s David Freeman. ‘Messiah’, an oratorio telling the story of Jesus Christ’s life, is a joyful piece, but yet the singers looked frightened and unhappy throughout. They are poor Christians in a desert village, more often than not engaged in elaborate acrobatics where the singers stood on one leg waving their arms frantically, crawling on the floor like sheep or walking about like doped-out zombies. The absence of any real storyline and stilted character development leave the audience confused rather than entertained.
Had it been Christmas, they would have been forgiven for thinking it had been directed by the Grinch.
‘Messias’ is currently being shown at Gamle Scene in Kongens Nytorv and continues until September 30. For more details, see page G2 in InOut.