December 8, 2018, at Polk Street United Methodist, the first Messiah sing-along in forever was held, the last remembered event being some three decades ago. Whereas earlier sings had been sponsored by the then Civic Chorus or the generosity of some church, this event was hosted by Amarillo Opera under the new, inspired direction of Mary Jane Johnson.
Two organists, four directors, fifteen operatic soloists and some one hundred chorus members (and wanna-be’s) from the community joyfully celebrated Handel’s incomparable holiday message.
No one knew what to expect but a call to roughly-defined sections was quickly followed by the organ prelude. What ensued was a serendipitous “Wow!”
Tenor Eric Barry opened with the recitative “Comfort Ye My People,” which put me in mind of Luciano Pavarotti at Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal in 1978. So, if you missed the Messiah, check out L.P. on Youtube – you’ll get the idea.
The engagement of opera singers for the solos generated an aura of sanctity and sublime artistry which made this occasion impactful. Those of us in the chorus could only delight in the quality voices of these young professionals and hope that in the four group numbers our attempts to sequence the Handelian runs didn’t register on the Richter scale.
Congratulations MJ! You and Amarillo Opera knocked this one out of the park. Attendees are already talking about next year, replete with tees! And for this year, anyone not buoyed by the uplift from the Messiah must have Stage 4 Grinchiness.
So, full of the Xmas spirit, we say: “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!”