Bob Wilson proposes a poetic spiritual journey with “Christ.”

Bob Wilson proposes a poetic spiritual journey with “Christ.”

Stage magician Bob Wilson (Waco, Texas, 1941) returns to the Liceu on Saturday with a poetic performance of Handel's Messiah, in Mozart's version, in which the English-language Baroque work turns to German and adapts the Viennese classicism that appeared half a year ago. A century later. Singers Julia Lezhneva, Kate Lindsay, Richard Croft, Kresimir Stratanac, actor Max Harris and dancer Alexis Vosikis, together with the Gran Teatre del Liceu choir and orchestra, conducted by Josep Pons, are responsible for the installation of this ambitious production that premiered at the 2020 Salzburg Festival .

Handel's Messiah is a symphonic and choral work filled with philosophical messages inspired by various sacred texts and the Gospels. The popular piece, always on the Christmas programme, recounts the birth, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. However, Wilson's presentation invites thought through evocative and illuminating images to deepen vision beyond the Christian tradition. Wilson envisions this sacred oratorio as a spiritual journey through imagery, dance, and visual poetry in which light plays a major role.

The director said in a press conference yesterday: “My work helps you listen to music better, so you can focus on it.” Wilson made his Liceu debut in 1992 with Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass and returned in 2012 with his version of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande. In his Christ, images and music return. It is full of ideas and associations.

Multiple meanings

In Germany, where the production premiered in 2020, a woman insisted on knowing the meaning of the image of the Soprano pouring water into a cup until it spilled and fell to the floor, then throwing it over it. The director never resolved his doubts. “As artists, we work to get people to ask themselves: ‘What does this mean?’” said Wilson, who, after reciting an excerpt from “Hamlet,” insisted that great works have multiple meanings: “I learned these lines when I was 12 and now “I am.” He added: “M 82, but every time I return to Hamlet I find new meanings and new ideas.” He and Ponce recommend that audiences come to Liceu ready to move in. “Music has to be experienced and felt internally. More important than understanding it is arriving,” Ponce stressed.

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Handel's Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742. It is in three parts, containing scenes interspersed with recitatives, arias, choruses, and couplets, but also musical passages. Fifty years later, in 1789, Mozart expanded the orchestration and gave the piece more brightness. “Even though the engine is the same, the work sounds very different from Handel's because Mozart uses different harmonies and keys, and changes the voices,” Pons recalls. In addition, there are also other works of the composer that resonate there, such as The Magic Flute, the Requiem in C minor, and the Requiem. “We can see the transition from Baroque to Classicism. It is a Baroque work tinged with a different style that brings more light and more colours. Mozart adds the clarinet, which did not exist in Handel's time, and several wind instruments. He also “modified the phrasing of the singers.” But my doubts as a music director were: Where do I stop?’” Pons let himself be guided by “the hand of Mozart,” always searching for maximum coherence and clarity.

In Christ he uses a large screen on which suggestive images are displayed. “I hope that everything that happens on stage will help make the audience focus more on the music and the text.”

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