17 May 2007
HANDEL: Jephtha (HWV 70)
Jephtha, oratorio in three parts (HWV 70).
Opera in three acts. Words and music by Richard Wagner.
Parsifal. Bühnenweihfestspiel (“stage dedication play”) in three acts.
“German poet, dramatist and novelist. One of the most important literary and cultural figures of his age, he was recognized during his lifetime for his accomplishments of almost universal breadth. However, it is his literary works that have most consistently sustained his reputation, and that also serve to demonstrate most clearly his many-faceted relationship to music. . . .
This theme relates to operas based on the works of Friedrich von Schiller.
Here are operas based on French literature from Balzac, Hugo and beyond:
Le Cid, Opéra in 4 acts
I puritani, opera seria in three acts
Zaira, Tragedia lirica in two acts.
Athalia: Oratorio (sacred drama) in 3 acts
Lucrezia Borgia: Melodramma in a prologue and two acts.
La Esmeralda: Opéra in four acts.
Ernani: Dramma lirico in four parts.
Oberst Chabert (Colonel Chabert): Tragic opera in 3 acts.
Otello: Dramma lirico in four acts.
Music composed by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Arrigo Boito after The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice by William Shakespeare.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a comedy in five acts with incidental music.
Le Marchand de Venise (“The Merchant of Venice”): Opéra in three acts.
Gli Equivoci (The Comedy of Errors): Opera in two acts.
Der Sturm: Opera in three acts
The Fairy-Queen: Semi-opera in five acts.
Macbeth: Melodramma in quattro parti.
Jephtha, oratorio in three parts (HWV 70).
Music composed by G. F. Handel. Libretto by Thomas Morell, after Chapter 11 of The Book of Judges and G. Buchanan's Jephthas sive votum (translation: Jeptha or the Vow) (1554).
First performance: 26 February 1752, Covent Garden Theatre, London
|Jephtha, Judge Of Israel and leader of the army||Tenor|
|Storgè, wife of Jephtha||Mezzo-Soprano|
|Iphis, Jephtha's daughter, betrothed to Hamor||Soprano|
|Hamor, a warrior, betrothed to Iphis||Countertenor|
|Zebul, Jephtha's half-brother, a warrior||Bass|
Setting: Ancient Israel
The Israelites, who for their idolatry had been oppressed by the Ammonites for eighteen years, become repentant, and invite Jephtha, a son of Gilead, to be their Captain in the war with their enemies. He accepts the trust, and (after a valedictory interview with his wife), in the ardour of his desire for victory, offers up to God a vow that if he should return home a conqueror, whatsoever cometh forth of his house to meet him, shall be dedicated to the Lord; --which is followed by a general invocation of the mercy and blessing of the Almighty. His wife, in his absence, being troubled with forebodings of some pending evil, her daughter attempts to dispel her gloomy apprehensions. In the following scene, Jephtha, having failed in his attempts to secure peace by a treaty, arouses the army of Israel for the battle.
News being brought to Iphis of her father's victory, she resolves to go out to meet him on his return. Zebul celebrates the happiness resulting from the triumph that had been gained, and is joined by Jephtha, who commends the valour of his chiefs, but piously ascribes the glory of the event to God, --whose Omniscience and omnipotence are celebrated by a chorus of the people. Jephtha is then met by his daughter and a train of virgins, who welcome his return with music and dancing. Struck with horror and despair at the sight, he makes known his vow; --his friends expostulate with him; --his daughter resigns her fate to his will--he is torn with anguish and remorse, but resolves on the fulfillment of his vow and the scene is closed by a chorus of the Israelites expressive of the mysterious workings of God's providence, and the uncertainty of human enjoyment.
Jephtha prepares to offer up his daughter, who, in humble resignation to what is thought to be the will awe Heaven pathetically bids adieu to all worldly joys and prepares for the sacrifice. The Priests, in fear and awe, appeal to the Almighty for guidance upon which an Angel appears and, forbidding the rites to proceed, declares that Iphis shall be devoted to a life of celibacy and the service of God. Jephtha and his friends successively acknowledge with gratitude the interposition of Providence in sparing the life of Iphis;--she and Hamor, to whom she was betrothed, piously submit themselves to the Divine will;--and her parents and friends, in conclusion, rejoice at the happy termination of their troubles, and the peace which had been secured to their country.