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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MESSIAH” AT THE PLAYHOUSE (article first published : 2008-03-8)

Handel’s Messiah, one of the world’s best-loved choral masterpieces, will receive a triumphant Easter Sunday staging in The Playhouse Opera in Durban on March 23. Featuring a powerhouse musical contingent of more than 120 of KwaZulu-Natal’s finest choristers, the famous oratorio is to be presented by The Playhouse Company with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra performing under the baton of visiting Welsh maestro, Owain Arwel Hughes. The work will be staged by director Themi Venturas.

Members of the double chorus set to take part in this bumper event include choristers from many of Ethekwini’s renowned choral groups. Especially coached for the event by Juan Burgers, one of South Africa’s foremost exponents of choral music, they will join forces with the Durban Symphonic Choir under its widely-respected choral director, Rosalie Conrad, to provide what promises to be a magnificent musical occasion. They will perform alongside four leading South African soloists, the Cape Town-based coloratura soprano, Beverley Chiat, two Gauteng-based singers, Vera Marie Meyer (mezzo soprano) and Federico Freschi (baritone), and Durban’s own Bongani Tembe (tenor).

Handel’s Messiah was composed in the summer of 1741 and premiered in Dublin on April 13, 1742. Today the work remains Handel’s most famous creation, and proudly maintains its reputation as a highpoint of the world’s musical heritage. It continues to receive ongoing performances in venues ranging from community halls to the world’s leading concert halls, and countless recordings have been available to enthusiasts over the past 50 years or more.

Music lovers from all communities of Durban and surrounds are urged to seize this unique opportunity of experiencing the great work afresh, performed live this season in a fully-staged production that offsets its musical splendour with atmospheric scenic effects. While scenic details of the production remain under wraps, Venturas, who is noted for his work on lyric stages in South Africa and abroad (Princess Magogo, Carmen, The Magic Flute, La Traviata), is briefed to create production values that handsomely offset Handel’s famous score.

Highlights of the much-loved work include a wealth of rousing choral items such as the Hallelujah Chorus; For Unto Us A Child Is Born; And The Glory of the Lord, among others, as well as sublime solos such as Every Valley; I Know That My Redeemer Liveth; O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion; ‘Rejoice Greatly; The Trumpet Shall Sound and Why Do The Nations – to name a few.

Messiah will be staged in the Playhouse Opera on March 23 at 15h00. Tickets R50 through Computicket on 083 915 8000 or Playhouse Box Office on 031 369 9540 or 369 9596.




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