The curtains are finally lifting. Holiday festivities – and productions – are live, once again. In contrast to last year’s predominantly digital celebrations, relaxed pandemic restrictions have allowed Canadian presenters to open their doors and bring live music to their eagerly-awaiting audiences. No holiday season is complete without Handel’s classic, so we’ve assembled a list of Messiah productions you won’t want to miss.
Whether you want to watch from the comfort of home or live at the theatre, this year has plenty of options to choose from. Ready to get in the festive spirit? Keep reading.
1. Nov 29 & 30 – Brott Music
This in-person version features the National Academy Orchestra, Arcady Singers, and soloists Sydney Baedke, Andrea Ludwig, Bud Roach and David Pike. Maestro Boris Brott conducts at the West Highland Church in Hamilton, ON and Burlington Performing Arts Centre in Burlington, Ontario.
2. Dec 3 & 4 – Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO)
Rejoice, this ESO tradition returns in-person! This Christmas classic features soprano Sherry Steele, tenor John Tessier, bass Paul Grindlay, and the Richard Eaton Singers under the direction of conductor Leonard Ratzlaff. This production will have you in the holiday spirit with its beloved arias – including the famous “Hallelujah” chorus!
3. Dec 4 & 5 – Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Andrew Crust, this live Messiah features four acclaimed soloists from Alberta and the renowned Calgary Philharmonic Chorus. Soprano Hannah Pagenkopf, mezzo-soprano Andrea Hill, tenor Timothy Shantz and bass-baritone Peter Monaghan bring Handel’s masterpiece to life in beautiful Jack Singer Concert Hall.
4. Dec 7 – Orchestre classique de Montréal
With conductors Boris Brott and Xavier Brossard-Ménar at the podium, this Messiah presented by Orchestre classique de Montréal at Saint Joseph’s Oratory will feature an acclaimed quartet of soloists: Soprano Jacqueline Woodley, mezzo-soprano Marie-Andrée Mathieu, tenor Antoine Bélanger, and bass-baritone Neil Craighead, alongside the choir Les Rugissants. The production will be available both in-person or via web broadcast.
5. Dec 10 & 11 – Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra
Set in the historic Basilica of St. John the Baptist, you won’t want to miss this Christmas tradition. Under the direction of guest conductor Kathleen Allan, NSO’s in-person Messiah brings together the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonic Choir, and soloists soprano Meredith Hall, mezzo-soprano Vicki St. Pierre, tenor Haitham Haidar, and bass-baritone Jorell Williams.
6. Dec 15-19 – Toronto Symphony Orchestra
A holiday tradition returns to Roy Thompson Hall! TSO’s Messiah will include exultant arias and refrains, including the iconic “Hallelujah” Chorus. RBC Resident Conductor Simon Rivard will lead the production, which featuring soloists Anna-Sophie Neher, Rihab Chaieb, Spencer Britten and Stephen Hegedus, the Orchestra, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
7. Dec 12 – Jan 9 – Against the Grain (AtG)
AtG’s critically acclaimed Messiah/Complex returns this year, and will be available for audiences to enjoy both in theatres across Canada and to stream. The production features a diverse cast of performers from every province and territory in Canada singing a multilingual choral translation in Inuktitut, Dene, French, Arabic, Southern Tutchone and more. Accompanied by the TSO and conducted by Johannes Debus in partnership with the Banff Centre, this production gives us an inclusive, innovative take on Handel’s classic. The company is offering the option to stream the production for free, or pay what you are able, from Dec 12 – Jan 9, 2022.
8. Dec 15 – Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra
Under the direction of conductor Dr. Janet Brenneman, WSO’s Messiah features celebrated soloists and the CMU Festival Chorus. Performed at Centennial Concert Hall in Manitoba, this is a festive celebration not to be missed.
9. Dec 16 – Tafelmusik
Curated by Ivars Taurins, this festive program reunites members of Tafemusik’s choir and orchestra for the first time in 2021. This program includes a selection of choruses from Handel’s classic, complemented by harmonized baroque arrangements of Christmas carols. Audiences can purchase a tiered ‘Digital Pass’ to stream the live production (performed Nov 25 & 26), in addition to other Tafelmusik digital concerts.
10. Dec 18 – Victoria Symphony
Victoria Symphony’s Bach to Me fuses Handel and Bach, delivering a festive program that includes selections from their most iconic works for the season. Tafelmusik’s Ivars Taurins conducts an acclaimed cast of soloists who perform the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah, and excerpts from J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.