PROVO, Utah, Nov. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- BYUtv today announced that it has produced and will air this holiday season, Handel's Messiah, a new docudrama about the world's most popular and renowned choral work by one of the leading composers of the Baroque era, George Frideric Handel. The docudrama, narrated by Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning actress Jane Seymour, tells the little known dramatic and inspiring backstory of how the iconic oratorio came to be written, conveys a universally powerful tale of humanity laid bare in all its brilliance and imperfections, and offers a powerful perspective on the music embraced by all of Christendom during the Christmas and Easter seasons—Handel's Messiah.
Produced and directed by filmmaker Lee Groberg, edited by cinematographer Mark Goodman and written by screenwriter Mitch Davis, the 78-minute docudrama chronicles the lives of three primary characters – composer George Frideric Handel, singer/actress Susannah Cibber and patron of the arts/librettist Charles Jennens - while capturing the drama, intrigue and suspense that surrounded their interactions.
"So many people have heard or sung Handel's Messiah, but few know the story behind the making of this timeless work," said Derek Marquis, managing director of BYUtv. "While many television programs have featured performances of Handel's Messiah, few if any have documented its rich history, insights and creation. Handel's Messiah transports us to the time of its genesis through period re-enactments and includes original insights from the world's leading scholars and experts on Handel, and portrays stunning highlights of the story in historic European settings with regional actors and professionals."
Handel's Messiah examines in depth the life of George Frideric Handel - a complicated, strong-willed, temperamental and creative genius who had an extraordinary ability to convey drama and human emotions through music. The docudrama follows Handel's journey from his home in Hamburg, Germany, to Rome, Italy, where he traveled to hone his composing skills, only to be thwarted by a papal decree banning opera. Fortuitous, the decree encouraged Handel to develop oratorio, a new musical genre that blended opera and sermon, which prepared the way for his crowning work, Messiah.
Moving onto London, Handel continued to focus on producing secular Italian-language operas and became one of the first composers to successfully stage an Italian opera in London. The docudrama explores the experiences behind Handel's Messiah and tells the story of how Handel befriended Charles Jennens, the man responsible for compiling the poetry and prose from the Old and New Testaments to help complete this musical masterpiece. The film also depicts Susannah Cibber, the opera singer who was able to breathe life into this redemptive composition.
Leading Handel musicologists, historians and religious leaders featured in the docudrama include:
Fred Fehleisen, Professor, Juilliard School of Music
Ellen T. Harris: Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and internationally recognized scholar specializing in the music of Handel
Ruth Smith: leading Handel Scholar at Cambridge
John Rutter: composer and leader of the King's College Choir at Cambridge
John H. Roberts: leading Handel authority, University of California, Berkeley
Donald Burrows: Professor of Music and Director of the "Handel Documents Project" at the Open University, England
Paul McCreesh: British Conductor and expert in early music
Katherine Hogg: Librarian at the Foundling Museum in London in charge of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection
Michael L. Ballam: Music Historian and Professor of Opera at Utah State University
Richard Egarr: Music Director, Academy of Ancient Music, Amsterdam
Elder Russell M. Nelson: Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Utah
Rev. Mary June Nestler: Episcopal Diocese, Salt Lake City, Utah
Father John Schiavone: Pastor of the St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, California
"Handel's Messiah was created amidst tragedies from financial ruin and suicide to adultery and apostasy, " said Mr. Groberg. "Yet, through this darkness came the ultimate expression of Christian faith, hope and charity that continues to effect people today and is performed by choirs around the world like clockwork each year."
Handel's Messiah tells the tale of a creative genius whom Ludwig von Beethoven regarded as the greatest composer, "the master of us all," who had the gift of being able to express and understand very complicated human emotions. Messiah reminds us that we are all fallible, yet worthy of forgiveness.
Handel's Messiah will premiere Nov. 27th on BYUtv at 7pm MT/9pm ET and will be rebroadcast throughout the 2014 Holiday Season. BYUtv is available in every state of the country via cable, satellite and multiple digital media platforms including byutv.org, iOS apps for iPhone and iPad, the BYUtv Roku channel and apps for Android and Microsoft Xbox 360.
Owned by Brigham Young University and based in Provo, Utah, BYUtv is a groundbreaking High Definition cable television network that has created a breadth of original "see the good in the world" programming that fills a void in entertainment the entire family can enjoy together, including sketch comedy, history, music and documentary offerings. The cable television network continues to build steady momentum, drawing new viewers to its shows from every state of the country. The non-commercial station is available in more than 53 million households in every state of the country and offers approximately 1,000 hours of original programming annually, including 500 hours of live HD collegiate sports.