BBC Easter broadcast of ENO Messiah

Published: 12 March 2021
Reporter: Vera Liber


BBC Two will broadcast a concert of Handel’s Messiah from English National Opera for television this Easter.

The hour-long performance will be staged at the London Coliseum and filmed with no live audience, performed by guest soloists and the ENO Chorus and Orchestra. It will be presented by saxophonist and broadcaster YolanDa Brown and broadcaster Petroc Trelawny.

Handel’s Messiah follows ENO’s recent partnership with the BBC to bring audiences at home Mozart’s Requiem, broadcast on BBC Two in November 2020. Featuring some of Handel’s best-known music including the "Hallelujah" chorus, Messiah, composed in 1741 and premièred at Easter 1742, tells the story of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus.

ENO will return to the custom of performances in Handel’s lifetime, using a broader spectrum of solo voices than the usual four, featuring instead a bigger cast of eight soloists. Established stars mezzo-soprano Christine Rice and countertenor Iestyn Davies join current and former ENO Harewood Artists, sopranos Nadine Benjamin and Nardus Williams, tenors Anthony Gregory and John Findon, baritone Benson Wilson and bass William Thomas. The ENO Chorus and Orchestra will be conducted by Handel expert Laurence Cummings.

ENO Artistic Director Annilese Miskimmon said, "returning to the London Coliseum, the first time since performing the haunting Mozart’s Requiem in November, will be hugely emotional for us as a company. Handel’s beautiful music transcends the specifics of its biblical text in embracing the possibility of hope and rebirth after the darkest of times."

Head of BBC Music TV Commissioning Jan Younghusband added, "we are delighted to be working with ENO again to create a performance in their theatre and for television. Whilst it is not possible to have live audiences in theatres, concert halls and opera houses at the moment, it is even more important to deliver music performance for our audiences on television, and bring great artistry to music fans locked down at home."