In the lead up to our annual performance of Messiah on Saturday, 2 December, we caught up with each of our soloists to find out a bit more about them, their experiences with Messiah and what the coming year has in store them.
Tenor Timothy Reynolds is a Melbourne-born tenor who works extensively overseas, in particular London. Timothy completed his Bachelor of Music in 2007 and was a member of the Trinity College Choir at the University of Melbourne from 2002 to 2007. He was a prize-winning finalist in the 2007 26th National Liederfest and a finalist in the 27th National Liederfest in 2008.
He performs extensively with Victorian Opera and recent highlights include The Snow Queen and La bella dormente nel bosco.
Tell us about your experience singing Handel’s Messiah
I’ve been singing the Messiah every year since I was a chorister at Melbourne Grammar and somehow I never tire of it. There is so much beautiful, dramatic, sorrowful and ecstatic music within the Messiah that it never fails to connect with the listener or performer and what
they are experiencing and feeling at that time in their lives. I think this is key to its longevity and broad appeal — and my continuing enjoyment of the work — whether it’s a ‘Sing Your Own Messiah’ in a community setting or a black-tie concert hall performance.
What are some of the challenges in the arias that you sing?
Like a few of the other voice types in the Messiah, the tenor arias span a range of vocal weights and type: from the light and floating 'Comfort Ye' and mellifluous 'Ev’ry Valley' to the beefier 'Thou Shalt Break Them'. Navigating these changes, with long spells sitting quietly trying not to cool down too much is one of the foremost challenges for me in the Messiah.
Do you have a favourite moment in the work?
Plenty! Having performed the work many times as a chorister and soloist, I have plenty of favourite spots. The final chorus 'Worthy is the Lamb' and the 'Amen', 'He Shall Feed His Flock' -- especially as a Soprano/Alto duet, the little group of four recits and airs the tenor gets in the
middle of Part 2, but I think the chorus 'Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs' is probably my absolute favourite moment courtesy of all the beautiful and wrenching suspensions and clashes between vocal parts.
What’s your approach to ornamentation — prepare or improvise?
A bit of both. Light preparation, followed by decisions during the performance. Ornamentation, for me, is best used sparingly. With the exception of the few moments where appoggiaturas and trills are obligatory, ornamentation should otherwise be judiciously applied as both an aesthetic choice and as a dramatic choice that can weaken or strengthen a particular phrase and melodic line. But it is important to be aware of the atmosphere of the performance and choose while you’re singing -- a lot can change during a live performance. For something like
a cadenza, I think it should be prepared in advance and rehearsed, otherwise you risk leaving the orchestra behind!
Does singing this music in a church feel different to singing it in a concert hall?
Absolutely. The Messiah is not just a religious work, but also a work that is for many (including myself) synonymous with Christmas. Having grown up in the church, performing the Messiah in church at this time of year has a lot of very strong associations and memories for me, and Christmas doesn’t quite feel the same without it!
Briefly tell us about your plans for 2018
2018 is shaping up to be a great (and busy!) year. I’ll be reprising my role as Bill Barnacle in Calvin Bowman’s family opera The Magic Pudding for Victorian Opera (VO) early in the year, which we will tour regionally, and I will be rejoining VO later in the year in the role of Ruodi for their season of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell. I’m also performing in what I believe is the Australian premier of CPE Bach’s rediscovered St Matthew Passion of 1777 for the 3MBS Bach marathon, and a few other concerts on the boil but not yet confirmed.