Review: Handel’s Messiah at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Our review team attended Saturday’s performance of Handel’s Messiah with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Laura had heard it a few times, but always in religious settings. Sarah had never heard it live before. They both speak quite movingly of how the music affected them. They both love symphony performances and they both downplay their capacity to describe these experiences for you. So we keep sending them back and back because its the experience that fuels our connection to the arts, not necessarily our technical skills. ~ Sue

I saw Handel’s Messiah several years ago and somehow didn’t realize it was an opera. When I saw it again Saturday night at the magnificent Heinz Hall with the Pittsburgh symphony it became apparent via the way the songs were sung that this was indeed an opera.

I want to listen to it again just to hear what I may have missed this time.

~Sarah

Handel composed this masterpiece in 1741! He traces the life of Christ from birth until Resurrection.

PSO-Messiah_Reginald Mobley Photo Credit Julie Goetz

Along with the symphony, directed by Manfred Honeck, Handel’s Messiah featured the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and four soloists: Ying Fang a soprano, Reginald Mobley a Grammy nominated countertenor, Timothy Fallon a tenor, and baritone Alexander Birch Elliott.

Each of the soloists possessed a magnificent voice, but I enjoyed Ms. Fang and especially enjoyed Mr. Mobley as I don’t think I have ever heard a countertenor before. His voice was mesmerizing. I admire anyone who can carry a tune. I especially admire people who have the technical ability, the training and the voice to carry a tune to such heights that it can send chills. I felt that way listening to the four soloists.  It is one reason I return to the Pittsburgh Symphony again and again.

I’ve never heard a counter tenor before and was very surprised by his range

Sarah

Although some productions of Handel’s Messiah feature sing-alongs by the audience, that was not the case. All four soloists along with the choir did the singing in this version. I have heard the Mendelssohn Choir in other musical productions and I enjoyed hearing them perform Saturday night. Something about hearing a choir always moves me.     
I’m not particularly religious although I did  grow up attending church regularly as a child. Even as a child the story of Christ’s birth in particular always moved me. I loved Christmas so the part of Handel’s Messiah where the Hallelujah chorus is sung is my favorite part. Although I struggle with the message I still find it hopeful if that makes any sense!  
I enjoyed the opportunity to hear Handel’s Messiah with the symphony orchestra in such a magnificent setting and would highly recommend it to anyone — even if you’re not religious it is an opera worth hearing. 

Credit Julie Goetz

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