The hour-long oratorio had its world premiere at, and commissioned by, Toronto's Luminato Festival on June 1, 2007 in Roy Thomson Hall. It received its U.S. Premiere on July 1st at Caramoor Center for Music and Arts in Katonah, New York, during the International Music Festival.
At the premiere, Idle performed as a "baritone-ish" soloist and narrator as well as reprising some of his roles from the film, including Mr. Cheeky, a man in the crowd who asked if Mandy is a virgin, and the Lead Singer Crucifixee. The other soloists were American bass-baritone Theodore Baerg, Canadian soprano Shannon Mercer (as Brian's lover Judith), American tenor Christopher Sieber (as Brian) and Canadian mezzo-soprano Jean Stilwell (as Brian's mother). Other active participants were the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Peter Oundjian), members of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and four stolid and kilted bagpipers in British 19th-century army regalia.
The Toronto Symphony's involvement was no coincidence. Conductor Peter Oundjian is Idle's first cousin; their mothers are sisters. "We've been talking for a long time," said Idle, "about wouldn't it be fun to do something with an orchestra."
With the success of Spamalot, Eric Idle's musical retelling of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Idle announced that he was giving Monty Python's Life of Brian a similar treatment. The oratorio, called Not the Messiah, was commissioned to be part of the Luminato arts festival in June 2007. It was written and scored by Idle and John Du Prez, who also worked with Idle on Spamalot. Du Prez owns a cottage in the French town of Condom, which is where the show was conceived.  Just as Monty Python's Life of Brian is a spoof of the life of Jesus, Not the Messiah is a spoof of Handel's famous oratorio Messiah. "If our [Life of] Brian was by Matthew then this is by John (but more John Lennon and John Du Prez.) In other words, it isn't sketches at all, but recitative and songs and the occasional Nine Carol Service Reader."
The musical style jumps around, and Idle described it as "baroque 'n' roll".Template:Fact It is a pastiche, reflecting pop, Welsh hymns, country and western, doo-wop, hip hop, Broadway, Greek chorus, and Bob Dylan (in his mumbling, electric guitar and harmonica phase, solo-ed by Idle). "Hail to the Shoe" is sung to the tune of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah oratorio. The final song is the sing-along Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, reflecting the British Music Hall tradition, but originally written for the Life of Brian.
Part One: Apocalypso Now
- Chaos and Confusion!
- There Shall Be Monsters.
- O God You Are So Big.
- A reference to one of the lines in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
Part Two: The Boy Next Door
- Mandy's Song.
- Woe Woe Woe!
- A doo-wop type song.
- And There Were Shepherds.
Part Three: The Temptation of Brian
- Brian's Dream.
- What Have the Romans?
- The People's Front of Judea.
- The Market Square.
- You're The One.
Part Four: Baroque and Roll
- A movement of "choral sex".
- The Chosen One Has Woken!
- Take Us Home.
- The Chosen One (cont.)
- A Bob Dylan spoof, complete with harmonica, guitar and sunglasses.
- Hail To The Shoe!
- Spoof of "Hallelujah" from Handel's "Messiah," also contains "beatboxing" by Idle.
Part Five: Miserere Loves Company
- A Fair Day's Work.
- References "The Lumberjack Song".
- The Final Song.
- Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
- From the original movie, has the audience singing along with the soloists, narrator, orchestra and bagpipe quartet.
Encore: The Lumberjack Song preformed by Michael Palin
Robert Cushman, "Not the Messiah (He's a Naughty Boy)", Festival07 Luminato Festival 2007 Program, pp. 17-21).
"Not the Messiah." Roy Thomson Hall Performance Program Insert, Summer 2007. pp. 5-13.
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