We had our workshop performance of Messiah yesterday and I'm very pleased with both the performers and with the feedback from the audience. This was a scary endeavor for me, and as the work crystallized this week it only became more so. This work goes in the direction of something rather new, certainly unconventional, and for which I have been aiming for some time. Getting so attached would make a less than positive reaction from our test audience something hard to swallow. Also, because it is a sincere attempt to use Handel's work for make something meaningful while still being respectful of the brilliance of the score (and texts), it would have hurt a great deal had the audience found the performance gratuitous.
I made sure to invite folks that I thought would be honest and some that I knew would be tough sells. I think it worked. The audience had to imagine a visual language that will be an important component, as it is in all AOT productions (lights, but also in this case a whole chorus), but I think they responded to the work and didn't find it too obtuse. Clayton Koonce of Operatically Inclined summed up his thoughts eloquently on his blog post for yesterday. Our wonderful bass David Newman also wrote about his unique experience staging this piece that he has sung so many times. We made a video of the rehearsal to revisit as performance time gets closer, and also took lots of photos which I hope to post soon. It has been a long week of very intense rehearsals. I must say it is nice not to have to go into production week at the end and to have this break.
That isn't really going to happen however. I leave tomorrow to visit friends in NY (Joe Gladstone who is a terrfic, really the ideal, stage-manager and his talented wife Lydia who is an actress). While there I have meetings with the folks at BAM, the DIA Foundation, The Institute for Living Judaism, and the 7th Regiment Armory which is the new hot space in NY, very cool. Then it is back to Baltimore to start getting "Ground" together for performances next week. Have I mentioned that you should all buy your tickets?
Lots of exciting things happening...don't miss any of it!