Messiah and Portsmouth: Then and Now

Impact: Cultural & Creative Impacts, Public Discourse Impacts

Description of impact

Exhibition in Portsmouth's Guildhall of research underpinning a concert on 18 March 2017, which will present Handel's Messiah in the form in which it was performed in Portsmouth in 1812.

Who is affected



The exhibition presents the background research that supports the Practice-as-Research concert of Messiah that will take place on 18 March 2017 in St. Mary's Church, Portsea. It also points towards the research questions that will be addressed in that concert. The concert will present a version of Messiah that was given in Portsmouth in August 1812 and results from my discovery of a wordbook to that performance and associated archival and contextual research. The 1812 performance was distinctive for a number of reasons but predominantly because a prima donna, Angelica Catalani, exerted her authority as a diva over Messiah. Thus the performance offers a Practice-as-Research engagement with the questions: How can such "diva disruption" be effected in a recreation of the monumental version of Messiah that was offered in Portsmouth in 1812? Is the tension between textual authenticity and performed authority palpable to a contemporary audience?
Impact statusOpen
Impact date13 Oct 201618 Mar 2017
Category of impactCultural & Creative Impacts, Public Discourse Impacts
Impact levelEngagement (development stage)


  • Messiah
  • Handel
  • Portsmouth
  • Catalani
  • Practice as Research
  • Diva
  • Prima donna