ASO messiah 2022Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Adelaide Town Hall. 16 Dec 2022


From the very moment Melbourne-based tenor Michael Petruccelli intoned the opening phrase “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people”, the capacity audience knew they would be released from the cares of the world, at least for the next two hours.


Petruccelli was late replacement for Nicholas Jones, who was indisposed and unable to perform. How fortunate we are that talent abounds in this country and can be called on at short notice. Petruccelli has a warm and wonderful voice that is well suited to the technical rigours of Handel’s oratorio Messiah. Indeed, his singing throughout was a highlight of the concert.


Joining Petruccelli on stage were soprano Sara Macliver, countertenor Russell Harcourt (who sang the alto line), and baritone David Greco (bass line). From a double manual harpsichord, Erin Helyard conducted the Adelaide Chamber Singers and a pared down Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (strings, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, timpani and chamber organ). In all, around sixty-five singers and musicians gave an appreciative audience an authentic performance that was peppered with sublime moments.


Chief amongst these special moments were the superb performances from the choir, which really is one of the best choral ensembles in Australia and indeed the world. “For unto us a child is born” was imbued with a sense of joy which showed clearly on the faces of the choristers, especially the sopranos. The crystal clear enunciation in “All we, like sheep” was simply astounding.


Harcourt’s well-formed countertenor voice allowed “But who may abide” to slide gently and lucidly above the orchestra, and his performance of the duet “He shall feed his flock” with Macliver was as transcendent as it was technically superb. “Thou art gone up on high” perfectly suited Harcourt’s tessitura, but Helyard permitted the orchestra to dominate him a little in “He was despised”.


Macliver brought her ample skill and knowledge of Messiah to the fore, and her performance of “I know that my Redeemer liveth” bordered on being instrumental in its purity. Almost spine chilling.


Greco brought great sincerity and abundant story-telling skills to all that he sang. He was an audience favourite. “The people that walked in darkness” had ominous tones, as did “Why do the nations”, and “The trumpet shall sound” was sung almost with elation. Trumpeter David Khafagi was at the top of his game.

This was a most comfortable performance of Handel’s Messiah.


Kym Clayton


When: 16 Dec

Where: Adelaide Town Hall

Bookings: Closed