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Hallelujah! Burnaby opera singers present Handel's Messiah favourites – virtually

When the COVID-19 pandemic brought live performance to a halt, Burnaby Lyric Opera and OperaBox Company found a new direction
Messiah singers
Singers (clockwise from top left) Chloé Hurst, Bahareh Poureslami, Emma Parkinson, Isaiah Bell and Aaron Durand present Messiah Favourites Dec. 19 and 20. Photos: contributed and Getty Images

Hallelujah! Local audiences will be able to enjoy selections from Handel’s Messiah this holiday season thanks to a new online collaboration.

Burnaby Lyric Opera and OperaBox Company are teaming up to present a virtual performance of Messiah Favourites, online Dec. 19 and 20.

The performance features soloists Emma Parkinson, mezzo-soprano; Isaiah Bell, tenor; Bahareh Poureslami, soprano; Chloé Hurst, soprano; and Aaron Durand, baritone. They’ll be accompanied by musicians from leading baroque orchestras in Seattle and Portland.

Hurst, a Burnaby native, has frequently appeared in Burnaby Lyric Opera productions and concerts. She’s also one of the founders of the new OperaBox Company, which was formed by three young opera singers who found themselves out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They found a way to support themselves and other young operatic talent in B.C. by presenting virtual opera performances over the past several months.

With the holiday season approaching, they saw an opportunity to fill a void for local audiences.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the many live performances of Messiah that would typically be offered this month have been cancelled,” a press release notes.

The singers and musicians each perform in their own locations, on both sides of the border, and use Chroma-key technology to combine the socially distanced recordings into one full “concert” platform.

Messiah Favourites will be on Youtube on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. The link will be available for 48 hours after the event.

Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets.

Partial proceeds of all ticket sales will go to the Red Cross.