Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday 19 December - The Messiah

Seen outside a bank on rue d'Amsterdam
The weather forecast was for rain today. I went first to the four model shops on the rue du Douai. As the rain had set in I decided to take up the time on tramway T3. At least it was in the dry. 
This tram disgorged about 50 schoolkids and 15 attendant adults
At Porte de la Chapelle some 50 schoolkids, about 7 or 8 years old got off the incoming tram. There was one adult for every three kids and they all had to hold hands. Once off the tram they walked to the front and crossed the tram tracks in front of the out going tram. There was a delay while the last group of three got organized, it was difficult to hold onto three kids and an umbrella in the wind. They all got in to a RATP bus which was waiting.  The schools organize many outings for the children.

I took the tram to Porte de Vincennes and transfered to the tram to Garagliano. At Porte de Charenton the rain seemed to have stopped so I got off to take a look at the SNCF maintenance sidings for both TGVs and suburban trains. There was no yellow postal TGV in sight. The post office is planning to stop using these next August.
I caught the tram on to Balard and back to Villiers.

I had bought tickets for the Messiah in La Madeleine before we left Ottawa. It was an excellent performance although the church was barely a third full. We arrived in good time and found seats in the fifth row in the centre where we found the acoustics to be excellent. Several friendly ladies in the choir acted as ushers and sold programs. They had on filmy long black skirts which blew out when they passed over the hot air vents in the floor. The choir filed in followed by the orchestra and there was an expectant hush. Then it was discovered that one of the lights over the orchestra was not working. There was then a flurry of activity from several men and women in the choir and orchestra, all in formal dress, tracing cables and throwing switches in obscure locations. The conductor took advantage of the delay to promote some of his upcoming productions.  Suddenly the errant light came on to a collective sigh of relief from the audience and smiles from the amateur electricians.

The performance, which was in English, was excellent. All four soloists were good and they were not overwhelmed by the orchestra. The audience was reluctant to stand during the Hallelujah Chorus, maybe because they were not aware of this tradition. After a couple of bars the conductor turned to the audience and vigorously got them to stand. Before continuing he said
"C'est la loi de se lever pour la Choeur Alleluia"
The Hallelujah Chorus after the audience had stood.
My favorite part is "The trumpet shall sound" and this was very well played. The clear notes echoed back from the dome in a memorable manner. At the end, after the applause the conductor gave an encore, something I have never seen before. It was, of course, the Hallelujah Chorus and he made sure the audience stood up. He and the soloists then encouraged us to sing along.
It was a well performed, happy performance which we both thoroughly enjoyed.
The conductor, Paul Kuentz, with the four soloists
From the steps of La madeleine

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