Friday night at 8:00 PM
“The theater ought to be entered with more solemnity than a church, inasmuch as the entertainment you go to is the noblest adoration and homage paid to the Deity. So sublime an act of devotion as this would consecrate even Hell itself.”
—a critic for the London Daily Post, 1739, after the premiere of Israel in Egypt
Long before Xbox and CGI, the public read about rivers of blood, and skull-crushing hailstorms in the Bible. Epic tales of calamity and survival never go out of style, it seems, which is probably why Georg Friedrich Handel chose Israel in Egypt as the source of his oratorio. A shrewd business man, Handel kept his finger on the pulse of his public, and adapted according to their fashions in order to keep them coming back each season. There had been a backlash against the perceived immorality surrounding the opera house. Handel abandoned opera and offered Israel in Egypt, which had it all for the 18th century bourgeosie: royalty, betrayal, oppression, the supernatural, a seemingly invincible enemy, and a biblical lesson for the theater goer attempting to walk the path of the righteous.
Hear the complete oratorio, Israel in Egypt by Georg Friedrich Handel, Friday on WFMT.
Music of the Baroque Chorus and Orchestra
Jane Glover, conductor
Sarah Gartshore, Kimberly McCord, and Amy Conn, sopranos
Joseph Schlesinger, alto
Daniel Shirley and Klaus Georg, tenors
Keven Keys and Todd von Felker, basses