Take "least favorite" with a grain of salt, because it really is a wonderful piece. It's just quite long (what is called a da capo aria, which has an A section, a B section that goes in a different direction, and a return to the A section), and falls right in the middle of Messiah. To me, it's like the Wednesday of the work; Wednesday isn't a bad day but it's the hump you need to get through before you can glide into the weekend. So it's generally the point that I realize there's still a lot of music left before we can get to the finale, bow, and exit. If a mezzo can make me enjoy "He Was Despised," then she's incredible.
Our mezzo really acted the role, making you feel everything the Messiah is feeling at this point in the work - the people who loved him and sought him out have turned on him, as he goes to his punishment. In fact I noticed in yesterday's concert that, though she had her musical score with her, she had it closed and held at her side as she told the story.
I hope we get to work with her again!