The question throughout the first half of Handel’s Messiah, the last of the Bristol Proms, was when would Tristan Sturrock – Peter Pan in Peter Pan and Long John Silver in Treasure Island – wake up as Jesus.
It was only right before the interval that he arose, after he had his prostate body washed by his mother and Mary Magdalene.
Having Jesus lying dead in the centre of the action, surrounded by his followers, gave so much extra impetus to the evening’s sold-out one-off show.
Old Vic artistic director Tom Morris directed and Simon Over conducted, live action mixing with singing and an orchestra on stage (the Southbank Sinfonia and the Erebus Ensemble) in what was the first performance of the Messiah at the Bristol Old Vic since 1782.
And it was worth the wait, mezzo-soprano Catherine Wyn-Rogers particularly impressing as Mary among a stage full of artists – and off the stage too with trumpeters at one stage playing from the theatre’s gallery and a young chorister being spotlit and then plucked from the pit.
It was stirring stuff, emotive and moving – action and music combining beautifully for a compelling performance.
Bristol University physicist David Glowacki, responsible for the visuals during Friday night’s Nicola Benedetti concert, was even politely escorted from the pit for almost trying to crowd surf during the Hallelujah Chorus. Classical music has turned rock and roll.
We waited more than 200 years for the return of Handel’s Messiah to the Bristol Old Vic. Hopefully we will only have to wait a year for the return of the Bristol Proms.