There may be even more flavours of Handel's ubiquitous (and deservedly so) holiday favourite playing in Toronto this year, but here's a good list to start with. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, if you're a fan of chorale music, why stop at just one - or even just two?
The Elmer Isler Singers, the Amadeus Choir and more team up for an extravagant Messiah early in the season, complete with a big old church organ to add to the mix.
Features: Lydia Adams, conductor, Meredith Hall, soprano, Allyson McHardy, mezzo soprano, Michael Colvin, tenor, Peter McGillivray, bass, Robert Venables & Robert DiVito, trumpets, Patricia Wright, organ, Orchestra
December 4 - Metropolitan United Church (56 Queen St. East at Bond)
If you're north of the city, the George Weston Recital Hall is featuring a one time performance of the oratorio.
Featuring: Kerry Stratton, Conductor, Vocal Horizons, Canada's Gold Medal Choir, Festival Orchestra, Caroline Davidson, Soprano, Deborah Overes, Alto, Stephen Harlands, Tenor, Michael Uloth, Bass.
December 4 - George Weston Recital Hall
(Check the Vocal Horizons website for other dates they'll be performing in Markham & Richmond Hill)
For something completely different, Ballet Creole brings you The Soulful Messiah - a contemporary dance interpretation of the oratorio infused with R&B and drawing from African and Caribbean traditions to add the warmth of the tropics to Handel's perennial holiday fave.
December 11-13 - Harbourfront Centre
The Aradia Ensemble's Dublin Messiah
The Aradia Ensemble not only plays baroque instruments, they look to recreate the Messiah as it originally premiered in Dublin in 1742 at the Christchurch Cathedral (pictured). "It is requested the Favour of the Ladies not to come with Hoops this Day to the Musick-Hall in Fishamlbe Street. The Gentlemen are desired to come without their swords." When one of the passages was sung sublimely by one Mrs. Cibber, a woman of "questionable morals", a member of the audience is said to have cried out, "Woman, for this, thy sins be forgiven thee!"
Featuring: Laura Albino, Soprano, Marion Newman, Mezzo Soprano, Nils Brow, Tenor, Sean Watson, Bass
December 12 - Glenn Gould Studio
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra Messiah
This top drawer performance features: Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, Shannon Mercer, soprano. Matthew White, countertenor. Colin Balzer, tenor, Tyler Duncan, baritone & The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
December 16, 18, 19, 20 & 21 in the posh surroundings of Roy Thomson Hall
Tafelmusik's Messiah X2
Tafelmusik gives you Handel played on period instruments for an authentic period sound, and their Messiah offerings come in two different versions.
- December 16-19 at the gorgeous Trinity-St. Pauls' centre
Featuring: Ivars Taurins, conductor; Ann Monoyios, soprano; Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano, Benjamin Hulett, tenor; Sumner Thompson, baritone
- December 20 at Massey Hall - the Sing-Along Messiah
Get your tickets early to this annual Toronto institution - it sells out every year - conducted by "Maestro Handel" and giving you your opportunity to sing your heart out. Bring your own score, or buy one at Massey Hall, and seating is general admission by voice part.