Sunday, April 20, 2014

Nancy Storace Sings Handel's Messiah

In the spring of 1787, just after Nancy's arrival back in London from Vienna, she was engaged in a performance of the annual Handel Commemoration Festival at Westminster Abbey in which a large group of musicians gathered to sing the very popular oratorio, Messiah. She was to sing the popular soprano solo, I know that my Redeemer liveth. It was written by several of London's music critics, that in this particular setting, Nancy's voice was never more beautiful and that the acoustical conditions at Westminster provided a perfect atmosphere for her warm voice quality. One critic wrote, "She sung to best effect: in my opinion she rarely appeared to greater advantage, for in that space the harshness of her voice was lost, while its power and clearness filled the whole of it".

It was during a performance in another year at the Three Choirs Festival in Salisbury when a female Quaker heckler, who was disgruntled with the fact that a "sinful" theater actress was engaged to sing the sacred work, stood in the middle of Nancy's performance and shouted "O fie on thee! Shame! Shame! It is rank idolatry!" The woman was escorted out of the church and the performance continued.

Featured here is soprano, Lynne Dawson, singing I know that my redeemer liveth, from Messiah in a very similar setting as that in which Nancy Storace sang this same piece two-hundred years before.

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