hallelujah! hallelujah! and so on.
Handel's Messiah is a three-hour long experience, a little dazzling, a little painful. There's no story to speak of, no arc to follow; it just goes stanza by stanza until the last Amen (which lasts and lasts ...) So here's my arc, as an audience member seeing it for the first time: for most of the first act, I found myself distracted and unsettled at points by the focus on little baby Jesus, as predicted (sort of) by Isaiah. By the time the second act started, I had stopped swimming against the current. By the famous Hallelujah Chorus, when the whole audience rises to their feet as though to take the pledge of alliegence, I was saved.
By the end of act three, that Indy 500 loop of an Amen, my head was on the verge of exploding.
I emerged feeling like I'd been dunked in Christianity -- baptised, if you will. The soprano making her Metropolitan Opera debut really gave it all she had, as did everyone else, but I had to wonder: out of the 150 or so people on stage, counting orchestra, choral members, and soloists, how many actually believed what they were singing? How important were the words, per se, to them; and how important did they have to be to me?
Dinner at Outback Steakhouse with Mr. Ben's family felt equally strange, yet somehow appropriate, considering we were all gentiles.
Tomorrow morning, however, I turn back into my little jewish self. Mr. Ben and I wing it down to Florida to spend a week with my family, and then wing it back only to ditch the plane for a car and drive all the way up to our friend K-Ross's house in Wanakena. It'll be pretty packed, for a vacation, but hopefully a good start to the new year.
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