Uplifting Messiah in Buenos Aires

ArgentinaArgentina Handel, Messiah: Soloists, Ensamble Academia Bach and Orfeón de Buenos Aires. Conductor: Mario Videla, Festivales Musicales de Buenos Aires at Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 3.11.2011. (JSJ)

Soledad de la Rosa (soprano)
Martín Oro (countertenor)
Carlos Ullán (tenor)
Víctor Torres (baritone)

Though Messiah must be Handel’s best known and most widely performed oratorio, its production in Buenos Aires – like that of his other oratorios and operas – is so infrequent that when it is put on, it is awaited keenly.

This (single) production from Festivales Musicales de Buenos Aires – one of the more regular performers of the oratorios – lived up to all the expectations – despite the cuts to Parts II and III, including the two tenor airs “Behold, and see…” and “But thou didst not leave…” in the former and the duet “O death, where is thy sting” and the soprano air “If God is for us” in the latter, along with the accompanying recitatives and choruses.

The four soloists, Soledad de la Rosa, Martín Oro, Carlos Ullán and Víctor Torres, are all experienced in the genre and gave uniformly strong performances – although much as I enjoyed hearing Oro, and welcomed the opportunity once again to see one of his infrequent performances here, I personally prefer an alto to countertenor in this role. The only aspect that was less than ideal, however, was the use of a single singing position for the soloists to which they had to come forward.

The orchestra played well under the organization’s artistic director Mario Videla, who conducted with precision and style, albeit with some movements a touch on the slower side. The chorus were also exemplary – and particularly worthy of note was that theirs and the soloists’ diction was very clear and only rarely was one aware that English was not their native language.

And to round off an already uplifting evening, an encore of the Hallelujah chorus!

Jonathan Spencer Jones

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