Today at the Proms - Prom 55

Continuing our daily coverage of what's on at The Proms 2019, Susan Omand has a quick look at the programme for Prom 55: Handel's Jephtha ...

Reminder - you can watch Mississippi Goddam, the Nina Simone tribute Prom 45 AND Prom 17, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra's tribute to the 150th anniversary of the birth of Proms founder-conductor Henry Wood tonight on BBC Four. Spoilt for choice or what?

Just the one Prom on tonight though, and just the one work too, but it is a stonker. Jephtha is Handel's final oratorio (if you've been following these little articles, you will know what an oratorio is by now) and is inspired by the bible story of the said Jephtha and his vow to God that, if he should win in a battle against the Ammonites, he will sacrifice the first living thing he meets on his return home. (Judges 11). This turns out to be his only daughter, who runs out of the house to meet him. Ah...

HOWEVER! In this oratorio's English language libretto (story) by the Rev. Thomas Morell, there has been more than a little artistic licence with the original plot and *spoilers* instead of being sacrificed, his daughter is reprieved by the appearance of an angel in return for her dedicating her life to God instead. If you want to read the whole libretto - or maybe use it to sing along with tonight's performance - you can find it online HERE.

To give you a bit of practise, here's the aptly titled aria Scenes of Horror from Act I, Scene 5:

Scenes of horror, scenes of woe, 

Rising from the shades below, 

Add new terror to the night; 

While in never-ceasing pain, 

That attends the servile chain, 

Joyless flow the hours of light.



Here's the full programme for this evening's Prom which you can listen to live from 19:00 on Radio 3 or on the iPlayer 

George Frideric Handel
Jephtha(138 mins)

Image - Photo © Chris Christodoulou

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