Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Messiah and Little Chopsticks.

Last night I went to the annual "Messiah Sing" at Providence College. It was the second time I have gone. When I went last year, I had never heard the score before, except, of course, for the Hallelujia Chorus. I remember being blown away by some of the music. The Pastoral Symphony, in particular, was amazingly moving. The next day I went online and ordered the score from Amazon so I could practice for this year. I also bought a cd of Leonard Bernstein's version, which unfortunately is pretty seriously cropped. But it is still an amazingly powerful rendition, I think.

All year long, I have been listening to the Messiah in my car. The kids are sick of it! But now, I know the Bernstein version by heart, so I felt that I would be able to sing along without getting lost.

It was cold last night. My friend Carmen, who was supposed to come with me, ended up unable to come. Fr. P couldn't make it. I had a couple of hours between an appointment and the sing, so I took myself out to dinner at an old haunt on Smith street... Little Chopsticks. The place used to be packed every night, with lines for a table. Last night, it was literally empty. The owner was behind the counter. There were dead plants in the foyer. A waitress and the cook sat at a booth in the back and played with a cell phone. The owner asked after the children and Nguyen and was glad to see me. Not a soul in the place. I wondered if the food would be bad. (It used to be great.)

Since it was just me, I wanted to order a combination plate, even though it wasn't on the menu. No problem. I got Hunan chicken and rice. It was delicious! I really don't understand how this restaurant has fallen on such hard times. I was very sad for them. 20 years ago, they built the building... decorated it tastefully in a kind of Chinese, 1980's fusion of red, black and pink. Today, it just looks shabby and unkempt. The wall paper is pealing and the carpet stained. Mr. Linn, too, looked much older and frailer.

I payed the check and headed to PC. Because I was so early, I was able to get a seat right in the front row. I decided to sit in the Tenor section, since my voice is so low. I have to say, the whole thing was pretty tepid. The solo pieces were performed by music students and were lackluster. Lots of missed notes and poor pitch. I know it is an incredibly difficult score to sing, but what was worse was the complete lack of energy, both on the stage and in the audience. It was strange... subdued. Unenthusiastic. Even the organist missed some notes. The worst part, for me, was the Pastoral Symphony. This the piece that is the absolute crux of Handel's view of Jesus. Last year, when I bought the cd, it was the piece that I listened to over and over again... (I have talked about it in a previous post, ad nauseam at this p0int! LOL) But last night it sounded rushed. Emotionless. Like the organist really didn't 'get' it. I was disappointed.

So, on the way home, I cranked Bernstein in the car and sang at the top of my lungs.

Such a strange Advent this year. Maybe it's not just me....

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