|John R. Pierce
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|Friday night December 13, 2002, I attended a performance of Handelís Messiah by Boston Baroque at Jordan Hall in Boston.
The audience size appeared to be close to the capacity of the hall. There were a few empty seats here and there. I donít know whether they were unsold or whether they belonged to subscribers who chose not to come. The audience was better dressed than your usual Jordan Hall audience. Apparently many people consider the Messiah something of a Christmas event for which they dress up somewhat.
When the four soloists and the conductor walked onto the stage, I thought that the tenor Stanford Olsen had changed so much as to appear a completely different person. And it was a different person. Martin Pearlman, the conductor, announced that Stanford Olsen (whose name appeared in the program) would not be there, and that Carl Halvarson would be singing instead.
The orchestra, chorus, and soloists were all very competent. However, neither the overall performance nor any of the soloists moved me very much. Maybe I just wasnít in the mood.
The chorus, as well as soprano Esther Heideman, tenor Carl Halvarson, and bass-baritone Kevin Deas all enunciated the text very clearly and projected their voices well. A few of the sopranoís high notes did not sound very pleasant to me. The mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Shammash had the most attractive-sounding voice of the soloists, but her enunciation was not always as clear as one might have wished. In her first two airs, she did not project her voice quite enough and did not make quite the effect that many mezzos achieve. I have no idea how much rehearsal there was, but maybe there could have been even more. I wonder whether the tempo could have been adjusted to better suit the singerís ability and to produce better dramatic effect. In the rest of the performance, she projected her voice well enough and seemed also to improve her enunciation.