Opera Scotland

Hagar in the Wilderness

Tours by decade

2010s - 1 tour

2013 - Nova Music Opera Ensemble
Fully Staged, reduced orchestration

Tours by location


Sally Beamish (born London, 26 August 1956)


Clara Glynn


Biblical (Book of Genesis). 



First Performance: Presteigne (St Andrew's Church), 21 August 2013.

First Performance in Scotland: St Andrews (Holy Trinity Churchl), 4 October 2013.



Sally Beamish's one-act opera is based on a well-known theme. A brief chamber piece in four scenes, lasting little over a half-hour, the drama is concentrated and effective, with some beautifully scored passages. The chamber ensemble consists of five players: flute/piccolo, percussion, harp, viola and double bass, and  was used to produce some exotic and effective sounds.



Hagar, Abraham's Egyptian servant (mezzo-soprano)

Abraham (bass-baritone)

Gabriel, an angel (tenor)


Plot Summary (Synopsis from the programme note)

Hagar is an Egyptian servant in Abraham's household, and the mother of his illegitimate child. Sarah, Abraham's wife, was barren, but in her seventies miraculously gives birth to a son, Isaac.

Scene 1: The Kitchen. Hagar is preparing a celebration feast, complaining to herself about the fuss surrounding the birth of the new baby. She feels her own son, Ishmael, is being overlooked. Abraham comes into the kitchen and listens.

Scene 2: Hagar's Bedroom. Abraham tells Hagar she must take Ishmael and leave, as Sarah wants them both out of the house. Hagar pleads with him, reminding him that he has another son. But Abraham is so overjoyed to be a father again, he simply cannot hear her.

Scene 3: The Wilderness. Abraham abandons Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness. Hagar protests but Abraham says God has told him to do as his wife asks.

Scene 4: The Wilderness, some days later. Hagar has run out of water in the desert. She puts her child under a bush and moves away as she cannot bear to watch him die. An angel appears and tells Hagar that God has stretched out his hand to save Ishmael, He stamps on the ground and a spring of water appears in the desert.

The Cast

 an angel
 Abraham's Egyptian servant

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