"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Friday, July 03, 2015
ALL THE ANGELS
Globe at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Haendel, naturalised Brit and national treasure, is no stranger to
the capital's stages. A prolific writer of smash-hit operas, he's
also appeared more recently as himself, notably in the National
Theatre's Coram Boy in
though, he takes centre stage in a beautifully written play with
music which looks at the first ever performance of Messiah, in
Dublin, in 1742. In a chiaroscuro candlelight that George Frederick
would certainly recognise, a small chorus and an even smaller period
instrument ensemble provide wonderful
from the magnum opus, while three actors bring the trials and
tribulations of that difficult premiere to life.
Campion plays not only Crazy Crow, a kind of 18th
century roadie moonlighting as a “resurrectionist”, but also
the librettist and Lord Cavendish who encourages Handel to open in
the Fishambles Music Hall.
Cibber, the singing actress who sang second soprano in that first
performance, was played by a modern singing actress, Kelly Price, who
brought a feisty spark to the part, as well as real pathos in her big
number – He Was Despised. She was also a very young Charles Burney,
bringing Handel his coffee in Chester
composer was done as a curmudgeonly perfectionist by David Horovitch,
battling with illness, fondly recalling the Water Music, bullying and
cajoling his prima donna, and reassuring the chorus that their role
is key – they are “all the angels”.
three performances are brilliantly polished; the piece is a perfect
fit for this space, as well as a fascinating, if conjectural,
exploration of that first triumphant Messiah and the people who