Screening (Hanoi): #18 DER MESSIAS Händel/Mozart

Screening (Hanoi): #18 DER MESSIAS Händel/Mozart


Sun 19 Dec 2021, 03 pm – 05:45 pm
Goethe Institut
56-58-60 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Online streaming and 24-hour VOD viewing from Saigon Classical’s Facebook page

From Goethe Institut:

Saigon Classical with support from Goethe-Institut Ho Chi Minh City and Goethe-Institut Hanoi introduce Screening and online streaming:
DER MESSIAS (The Messiah), K.572. Oratorio in three parts for soloists, choir and orchestra by George Frideric Händel (HWV 56), arranged by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, February/March 1789 in Vienna. A production by stage director Robert Wilson of International Mozarteum Foundation, at Mozartwoche from January to February 2020 at Haus für Mozart, in the project From Alpha to Opera – introducing famous operas with Vietnamese and English subtitles.

Oratorio The Messiah (HWV 56) is one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music, and the sixth of the genre composed by G. F. Händel. The Messiah’s text, neither in dramatic form nor containing impersonations of characters and direct speech, is a reflection on Jesus as the Messiah called Christ, the titular figure never appearing. The libretto penned by Charles Jennens employed Biblical texts and other contemporary theological verses compilation, from Isaiah’s prophecies to annunciation to the shepherds, and eventual Resurrection, wherein the word of God is the “subject” that speaks to us, alternating with statements by the people struggling with their belief, who are preoccupied with their hardships, fears and hopes. As Händel expressed it, the music aims to portray “the sublimest sentiments” about ultimate concerns, constantly moving between the two poles of existential fears and the awareness that the world is in need of redemption. The work has been described by early-music scholar Richard Luckett as “a commentary on Nativity, Passion, Resurrection and Ascension […], beginning with God’s promises as spoken by the prophets and ending with Christ’s glorification in heaven.”

Mozart rearranged (“rescored”) the work, then sung in German language as direct translation from the original English text, numbered K.572, for the two performances happening on March and April 1789, with additional parts written for wind instruments (in particular flute, oboe, clarinet and horns) and alterations made in the parts of brass. Baron Gottfried van Swieten wrote in a letter to Wolfgang Mozart after the latter re-orchestrated into Der Messias (ca. 1790) as follows: “He who is capable of dressing Händel with such solemnity and taste so as to please the slaves of fashion, on the one hand, and yet still show himself, on the other hand, despite all, to remain eminently noble, this man, I say, has sensed his value; he has understood it, and has reached the source of that which makes his expression, and will be able, and capable, of making his own creation of it. This is how I see the result you have attained.”

Stage director Robert Wilson feels that religion does not belong on stage but that spirituality does indeed belong there – he is not concerned with theological conflicts behind the work’s genesis, rather focused on the whole different level of expression that Händel and later Mozart have transported the Biblical text into. Händel’s gestural music appeals to us directly – in Mozart’s sound world perhaps even more so than in the Baroque original. The Biblical and theological texts assume a level of expression beyond ordinary grasp for conceptualization. For instance, the powerful pictorial metaphors employed in Revelation of St. John seem to offer direct links for Robert Wilson’s theatre inventions which frequently move into the surreal and make Händel’s and Mozart’s masterpiece the starting point for a spiritual journey.

“An artist recreates history, not like a historian, but as a poet,” said Robert Wilson. In this way, lying somewhere between intentional and its opposite, the introduced work by From Alpha to Opera, a work of Robert Wilson’s staging and Marc Minskowski conducting publicly showcased at Mozartwoche 2020 in Salzburg towards the end of January and beginning of February, might assume a nuanced message spoken to and relatable to us all, trapped in the COVID-19 era with our fears, agonies and never without hope – a whole new horizon being opened up to our present days.

ROBERT WILSON is one of the most important contemporary theatre practitioners worldwide and an exemplary Renaissance polymath-artist. After studying architecture in Brooklyn and painting in Paris, Wilson founded the performance collective Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds in New York in the mid-1960s. In 1976, in collaboration with Philip Glass, he created Einstein on the Beach, which was invited to perform all over the world and considered one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century. Robert Wilson has collaborated with countless musicians, writers and performers, including Heiner Müller, Tom Waits, Susan Sontag, Laurie An derson, William S. Burroughs, Lou Reed, Jessye Norman and Marina Abramovic´ and directed major operas and plays at renowned venues in Europe. His adaptation of Der Freischütz, The Black Rider, created with Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs, is widely performed. Wilson’s drawings, paintings, and sculptures have been exhibited by museums and private collections all over the world and his work has won numerous awards, including a Golden Lion for Sculpture from the Venice Biennale, and he has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Berlin Academy of Arts and has eight honorary doctorates. In 2014 Germany awarded him the Bundesverdienstkreuz. The New York Times described him as “a reference point in the world of experimental theatre and an explorer of time and space on stage” while Susan Sontag “can’t think of any body of work as large or as influential” when asked about the director’s artistic career.

This screening has been granted license by rights holder Unitel GmbH & Co.KG, marketed, distributed and brokered by C Major Entertainment GmbH to From Alpha to Opera project, under management of Saigon Classical Music Group.

The translation and localisation of materials (including programme notes, printed handouts and subtitles) into Vietnamese are performed by volunteers with the sole purpose of promoting classical music and increasing awareness of high standard quality worldwide operatic performances. We endeavour to credit appropriate creators of these materials and organisations involved. The screening is non-commercial and non-profit.

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Goethe-Institut Hanoi
56-58-60 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Tel.: +84 24 3734 2251
Fax: +84 24 3734 2254
[email protected]


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