Victorian Holiday 2019 submitted photos

‘Full Light’ puts a focus on ‘Messiah’

George Frideric Handel’s iconic classical music masterpiece “Messiah” has been performed for hundreds of years.

And while it’s one of the season’s favorites, Magnum Opus Ballet founder and artistic director Abigail Henninger said the 10-member group is ready to put on a performance that puts a new twist, or two, on the legendary piece.

The Madison-based company is preparing for a Victorian Holiday performance of “Full Light,” based on Handel’s work, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 at Stoughton Village Players Theater, 225 E. Main St.

Tickets are $10 for children 18 and under, $15 for adults and $12 for adults 65 and over, available at

The dancers emphasize working with the crowd, Henninger told the Hub last week, and look forward to performing at the theater for the third time.

“It’s very intimate and you can really interact with the audience and have that connection,” she said. “People see those stiff tiaras on your head, and (think) you’re not approachable, but that’s something we’re really trying to break the stigma of. We have a lot of different props we use and keep it interesting.”

The group is also performing “Full Light” for the third time, Henninger said, and has added about a half-dozen new pieces from Messiah to perform, upping the current total to 24.

“Handel’s Messiah is so beautiful and is just his masterpiece, so it’s pretty hard to pick out of the 53 (pieces) out of his whole score,” she said. “Everyone is very used to the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ which, of course, is incredible, but we’ve really brought out some other pieces that may be new to some people that are maybe just as beautiful and we feel really tells a great story.”

Perhaps the best part of the show, Hanninger said, is at the end when the dancers mingle with the crowd and “sign dance shoes for little girls who want to be ballerinas.”

“It’s really fun to inspire the younger audience,” she said.

And performing during the holiday season is another special layer of excitement for the group, Henninger said.

“It can be a joyous time for people, but also, people have lost loved ones or sometimes you can’t have family around,” she said. “So it’s great just to bring that uplifting feeling, even if just for an hour and a half, and plant that seed of love and hope this time of year.”

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at