It Begins and Ends with Handel's Messiah

My earliest memory of attending a live performance at Christmastime was when I was in graduate school in Oregon. I attended a sing-along Messiah concert with a group of my fellow students. I wasn’t familiar with much of the Messiah, so I really didn’t sing along. My friends sang with gusto and were a bit disappointed that I could do little more than read along as everyone else participated.

A few years later, while living in Nebraska, I drove to Omaha to attend a performance of The Nutcracker. The ballet was performed by a community-based group and I was disappointed that the ballet was performed to recorded music. In retrospect, I suppose the version I saw was The Nutcracker – Lite.

Now, living in San Francisco, opportunities to see high-quality Christmas performances abound. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I haven’t seen many of them. Over the years, I’ve seen A.C.T.’s version of A Christmas Carol several times, a performance that is often a bit unconventional. Who knew Ebenezer Scrooge could be played with a Caribbean accent?

By far, one of the most popular of holiday performances in San Francisco is the holiday edition of Beach Blanket Babylon, the story of Snow White traveling around the globe trying to find her prince. The holiday edition includes some special characters, including a forest of dancing Christmas trees. I’ve seen Beach Blanket Babylon many times, though only once at Christmas. It’s always a popular stop for visitors from out of town.

This year, I’ll be attending another performance of the Messiah. Some friends are taking me to the concert later this week. All I know about the performance at this point is that it’s not a sing-along Messiah. That’s probably just as well. I still don’t know the music.

Written for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Day 13. 

Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko

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