Nathalie Stutzmann conducts Händel Messiah in Metz

I have some crazy early train to catch so this will be a bit short. How about first a photo:

contralto overload

contralto overload

Perhaps bullet-point format is the way to go (no editing + bad grammar included):
– Program: Händel Messiah, Susan Gritton (soprano), Sara Mingardo (contralto), Benjamin Bernheim (tenor), Andrew Foster Williams (Bass), Orfeo 55, Nathalie Stutzmann (conductor), Chœur de Chambre de Namur.
– First, a confession: i missed Nathalie Stutzmann’s entrance *several* times, this is what happens when you have two contraltos sharing the stage!
– Phrasing!!! PHRASING! if you would like to hear what it’s like having a conductor getting an orchestra to phrase the music as she wants, this is it! it’s got shape, form, dynamics, just as the musical-doctor orders. 8
– On the point of phrasing, let’s start with recitative “.. and shall call his name, Emmanuel,..” and entrance music to “Oh Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion” : First you have Sara Mingardo making the announcement in recit, then violins scooping in, spreading the news like flood and fire (!), filling every gap in the valley, floating across mountain tops, carrying in the wind.. I LOVE the tempo! a bit of hesitation, then pulsation, then filling the air, you feel the wind passing by your ears! THHHEN, of course, Sara Mingardo finished the aria…
– Speaking of Sara Mingardo, you know i can’t be very objective at this point.. but i adoooooore her phrasing. i think that is it, her musical phrasing: communicates directly to my soul :-). How often one hears thadieu not get enough of the phrase “The Glory of the Lord” ?? how glo.ri.ous <– notice emphasis in musical phrasing + notes!
– And yes, still on the same subject, the evening started (for me) right when she started singing :-). Actually Händel Messiah starts a bit slow, as I mentioned last year during Boston Baroque’s performance. If i can make a comparison, Nicholas Phan grabbed my attention immediately whereas i got lost somehow in this (tenor’s) version.. hence the “late” starting point.
– The chorus is absolutely superb! especially in the 2nd and 3rd parts (though i also confess to drifting off due to jet-lag..)
– “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd”: i sat there wondering which version we would get.. because sometimes you only get soprano.. but huuuurrraaay, Ms. Mingardo got up to start the duet!
– Susan Gritton’s voice is quite warm and “sweet”, but somehow the phrasings didn’t quite work for my brain… in fact this was also the case for tenor + bass.. may be jet-lag?
– Orchestra: besides super lovely sound + balance + details i noticed above, let’s wait until i hear them again.. coz i believe my seat was a bit too far to hear all the nuances.. that on top of jet lag..
– Nathalie Stutzmann: just one more amazing thing: how to take care of singers! i absolutely loved how soft + dynamic she frame the orchestra around her soloists. Let’s take Ms. Mingardo again, simply because I believe her voice is most difficult to hear if you don’t take care of sound balance. In fact I wonder if the people sitting behind the orchestra heard her much. Even when she bent her head down looking at text i could hear the sound coming up less. Altogether, from my seat U25 (almost near the back of the hall), there’s absolutely no problem hearing her, and this is fully credited to Ms Stutzmann’s care. Did i mention already as soon as the soloist took a pause, orchestra swoops right in shaping the music, think flooding in super slow motion where you can feel the water coming and filing in. just fantastic.
– oh yes, how could i forget, what a fine fine fine white shirt she wears!! and i missed that a couple of times busy following Ms. Mingardo ;-).

OK, i think that’s about it. I fell asleep a *few* times in the slow parts 2 + 3, nothing wrong with performance, jet-lag went berserk. Let’s hope it’s dying down for tomorrow night!! Signing off with first a video of Nathalie Stutzmann’s view on conducting Messiah (I haven’t had a chance to watche, not sure if in french or english..) and a few left over photos.


random photo


will have to manage some fragmented french and fingers crossed to not miss the bus while running from the train… but happy to report i arrive in great health :D, what huge contrast to condition at this exact airport just 7 months ago.. time flies eey. super excited.. weeeee . i sure at some point jet-lag will kick in, but currently in super good mood (partly thanks to some pleasant news while in transit..) weeeee.

Edit: just ran into Nathalie Stutzmann in the shop while i retrieving my ticket… should have said hi, but i was a bit shy
ps2- i reallly should have said hi, she was 1cm from me walking past, just as i got my ticket in hand 😀