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As I noted in one of my symphony preview posts a few days ago, it's far from clear exactly what set of historical accidents turned George Frederick Handel's 1741 oratorio "The Messiah" into a Christmas tradition here in the USA. But traditional it is, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, under the direction of early music specialist Bernard Labadie, are observing it in fine style this weekend.

In a recent post I looked at the way Handel's "Messiah" got moved from Easter to Christmas. This time I'd like to take a look at an even more puzzling question: Why does everyone stand during the "Hallelujah" chorus that concludes Part 2?

The Christmas season in upon us. For those of us keeping track of the entertainment scene, that means an inevitable encounter with at least one performance of all of the following: a stage adaptation of Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" (probably with music), Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," and Handel's "Messiah". The latter is coming our way this weekend, in fact, from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under the baton of early music specialist Bernard Labadie.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis has opened Handel's "Richard the Lionheart," and it is truly astonishing! It is, in all aspects, the most perfect production of an opera that I've ever seen. And voices? Ah, the voices are quite stunning! This is not to be missed. This is a masterpiece.

Published in Theater Reviews

The Bach Society of St. Louis Christmas Candlelight Concert has been a St. Louis tradition since 1951 and, as this year's sold-out edition proved tonight, that tradition is grounded in fine musicianship and intelligent programming.

Powell Hall generated enough heat to light up the entire city December 12-13 with performances of “Too Hot to Handel:  The Gospel Messiah”, invigorated by the combined talents of soprano Cynthia Renee Saffron, mezzo La Tanya Hall, tenor Thomas Young, the St. Louis Symphony and the SLSO IN UNISON Chorus, guided by the hands of Kevin McBeth.

Published in Reviews

When a performance of Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” includes a countertenor among the soloists and a theorbo (a giant-sized lute with open bass strings for a fuller sound) in the orchestra, you’d be justified in expecting the results to be heavily influenced by what we now know about Baroque performance practices. And with Christopher Warren-Green’s “Messiah” at Powell Hall this weekend, you’d be right—most of the time, anyway.

The production of Handel’s 1739 pastoral opera “Acis and Galatea” that graced Union Avenue Opera’s stage this past weekend was pretty much a perfect fit for the company and its space.

Published in Theater Reviews