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Händel’s great masterpiece brought to life by video artist Netia Jones, the Baroque Soloists and conductor Bjarte Eike.

Messiah by George Frideric Handel was first performed in Dublin in the spring of 1742. After a rather modest reception in London, the work was eventually regarded as a triumph and has become one of the Western world's most performed and loved choral works.

Messiah was one of Handel's own favourites. He conducted the oratorio himself a number of times, often adapting it to the occasion. Handel experts Malcolm Bruno and Caroline Ritchie are now completing the first published edition of the authentic original Messiah, which will premiere at the 2017 Bergen International Festival. Here Messiah will be presented as first conceived, as an operatic entertainment, with all the extended, virtuosic arias that reveal the operatic feel of the 1740s London stage.

The Bergen International Festival and Bergen National Opera present the premiere performance, created by director, designer and video artist Netia Jones, known for her originals stagings of classical works.

Four outstanding sololists, the early music ensemble Baroque Soloists and the vocal ensembles Edvard Grieg Choir and Cathedra are led by Bjarte Eike. Michael McCarthy, director of music at Washington National Cathedral is also known for his association with the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter film.

"… the greatest composer that ever lived …"


Georg Friedrich Händel, edited by
Malcolm Bruno / Music
Excerpts from King James Bible and The Common Book of Prayer,
edited by Charles Jennens / Text
Netia Jones / Director, design and video
Bjarte Eike / Music Director
Michael McCarthy / Associate Music Director

Scenic oratorio in 3 parts

A new production by Bergen National Opera

Presented by Bergen National Opera and Bergen International Festival

Duration: 3 hours including break of 30 min.
Number of breaks: 1
Language: Engelish
Subtitles: Norwegiain

Contributing actors

Director, design and video:

Netia Jones

The Observer describes the British director, designer and video artist, Netia Jones, as “the most imaginative opera director in Britain today”. Her specialty is integrating film and video in opera performances and concerts. She has staged operas at leading houses in London, in addition to venues all over Britain. In 2012, Netia Jones staged the opera Where the Wild Things Are in collaboration with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, followed by Alice in Wonderland by Unsuk Chin. This season she is staging Curlew River By Britten for Teatro Real de Madrid. Netia Jones has previously created the operas Marco Polo and Erwartung for Bergen International Festival in collaboration with Bergen National Opera.

Music Director:

Bjarte Eike

Bjarte Eike is artistic leader for Barokksolistene and holds the position as Norway’s leading baroque violinist. He studied violin at the Grieg Academy in Bergen and baroque violin in London, where he graduated with the highest score. Bjarte Eide made a mark as a musician in residence at both Bergen International Festival in 2008 and Nordwind Festival in Berlin 2009. He established the critic acclaimed ensemble Baroque Fever, and works now as a freelance violinist, both as a soloist and concert master, all over Europe in ensembles as Concerto Copenhagen, Concerto Palatino and I Fagiolini. Especially memorable is his musical leadership of Handel’s Alcina at the Norwegian Opera & Ballet in 2014. Bjarte Eike has recently been a guest at Mimi Goes Glamping – Bergen National Opera’s own festival.

Associate Music Director:

Michael McCarthy

Michael McCarthy is Director of Music at Washington National Cathedral. Previously, he was the founding director of the London Oratory School Schola at the London Oratory in London. McCarthy also worked with The Sixteen, the Gabrieli Consort, The Cardinall's Musick and the Monteverdi Choir.

As a composer/arranger, his music was featured at the funeral of Ronald Reagan, the service for the second inauguration of George W. Bush, and the funeral of Gerald R. Ford, all events held at Washington National Cathedral. The Cathedral choirs have also recorded some of his music, such as "O Love of God" and "Lord of the Dance" on the CD entitled, "America the Beautiful" (2005).


Malin Christensson

Born in Sweden, soprano Malin Christensson studied at the Royal College of Music in London. Her most recent engagements include Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro in Los Angeles, Zerlina in Don Giovanni at the Houston Grand Opera and Sophie in Werther in Baden-Baden. To great critical acclaim, she sang Barbarina at the Salzburg Festival, Marzelline in Fidelio in Warsaw, Drusilla in L’incoronaziona di Poppea at Drottningholm and Papagena at Châtelet in Paris. She is also a sought-after concert singer working regularly with conductors like Dudamel, Jacobs, Blomstedt, Leonhardt and Ticciati. Handel’s Messiah marks her debut with Bergen National Opera.


Pierre Derhet

The young Belgian tenor, Pierre Derhet, was born in 1988, and he was trained at the Institut Supérieur de Musique in Namur. His particular interest in baroque music has led to a collaboration with René Jacobs in opera productions at La Monnaie and Theater an der Wien. Last season, he sang in Capriccio by Strauss at La Monnaie and Les mamelles de Tiresias by Poulenc at De Nationale Opera in Amsterdam. Apart from opera, Pierre Derhet also excels in lieder, notably in Robert Schumann, and in oratorios and operettas. Handel’s Messiah marks his Scandinavian debut and his first visit to Bergen National Opera.


Renata Pokupic

Croatian mezzo-soprano Renata Pokupić is praised for her engaging and expressive interpretation of baroque, classical and coloratura repertoire, and is much sought after by major opera houses and orchestras. Recent highlights include Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Irene in Handel’s Theodora and Nerone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. She has been a guest at the Royal Opera in London, Washington National Opera, Chicago Opera, the operas in Lille, Dijon, Beaune and Lyon in France – to mention some. On the concert platform, she has sung with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Hofkapelle Esterházy, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Handel’s Messiah marks her second visit to Bergen, the first being in Roméo et Juliette by Berlioz with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.


Callum Thorpe

Callum Thorpe studied with Mark Wildman at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he graduated with a distinction in 2009. He has rapidly established himself as a sought-after bass in the baroque and classical repertoire. Notable operatic engagements include Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni for Opéra Royal de Versailles, Sarastro in the Magic Flute for Theater Basel and Valens in Theodora at the Théâtre de Champs Elysées in Paris. On the concert platform, Callum Thorpe sings regularly under conductors like Haïm, Minkowski and Christie. Next season, he will join the solo ensemble of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.
The Messiah marks his debut at Bergen National Opera.

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