Israel in Egypt – Spotlight #2

This week, featured soloists Mikaela Bennett and John Holiday take their turn with our three questions…

1. What do you love most about Handel’s Israel in Egypt?
MB: This music is extremely special. The chorus is so grand, the solo lines are gorgeous, and I’m so excited to work on this piece amongst so many incredible artists! The text really resonates with me due to the underlying themes that can still be perceived as prominent issues we are dealing with today.

JH: This is the first time that I’ve ever performed this piece, and I’m finding so much joy in preparing for it.  I also love the story that we’re telling about leading people out of bondage.  With the current climate of our world, I think that there could not be a more fitting story to be told. 

2. What will be your most daunting technical feat for this production?
MB: The repetition in text and coloratura. Understanding and making internal decisions as to why text and long lines of coloratura are repeated and figuring out how to emote and bring out the text in a way that resonates with me as the storyteller.

JH: Because this is a brand new piece for me, the most daunting part of preparing it is becoming comfortable with the music, which is why I love to have the music in my body at least two months before a show.  Sometimes that happens and other times, because of circumstances beyond my control, it doesn’t.  However, with the help of my amazing teachers, coaches and team, I know it will be a wonderful success.  The music is quite gorgeous, and I’m honored to be making my debut in another Handelian work.  I couldn’t be happier to be returning to Carnegie Hall in this piece.

3. What is your favorite recording?
MB: John Eliot Gardiner’s recording from 1995 with the Monteverdi Choir. There is a clearness to the musical choices made in this recording that not only do I find attractive to my ear, but inspiring as I’m trying to better understand the style and theatrical interpretation of this grand piece by Handel.

JH: I haven’t yet listened to a recording  because I’m still working to develop my own take on this beautiful work!  Once I’ve developed my own feeling for the music, I’ll listen to a few performances of Israel in Egypt.  

Spotlight: THE PLAGUES

And there came all manner of flies…
Many historians now think that the plagues are passed-down accounts of a chain reaction of natural disasters, stemming from the catastrophic explosion of Thera in Santorini. Plague #3 – “And there came all manner of flies” – was likely caused by the die-off of the flies’ biggest predator, the frogs (Plague #2)… caused by the red clay runoff that turned the Nile to “blood” (Plague #1).
Want to learn more?
Check out this video at The Smithsonian or this book at the library!

Spotlight: Exile from Syria

The 21st century’s Syria crisis has accelerated more dramatically than any crisis on earth, and Syrians continue to be the largest forcibly displaced population in the world. After war erupted in March 2011, it took two years for 1 million people to be displaced. Another million were displaced within six months. Now seven years on, more than half of the pre-war population has been internally displaced or forced to seek safety in neighboring countries. That’s more than 11 million people on the run, including some 6.3 million people who have escaped across the borders. As of July 2018 the number of Syrian exiles is an estimated 6.3 million.


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