Opera Scotland

Elijah Elias

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Felix Memdelssohn (born Hamburg, 3 February 1809; died Leipzig, 4 November 1847).


Julius Schubring, translated by William Bartholomew


Biblical (Old Testament - Kings, Books 1 & 2).



First Performance: Birmingham (Town Hall), 26 August 1846.

First performance (revision): London (Exeter Hall), April 1847.

First Performance (German text): Hamburg, October 1847.

First Performance in Scotland: tbc.



Mendelssohn is known to have been very keen throughout his adult life to compose an opera, but was unable to find a suitable libretto. Towards the end he did start work on one based on the familiar romantic subject of the Lorelei legend, but had made little progress by the time of his death. We are therefore left with a group of brief operatic works he produced in his youth for domestic amateur performance. As that would suggest, they are of no great sophistication, but contain much music that is delightful. The last of them, Die Heimkehr aus der Fremde (1829), was revived after his death, and, under the title Son and Stranger had a brief period of popularity in Britain, which did not last into the twentieth century.

His great popularity inevitably meant that he was invited to compose oratorios. The two that resulted, St Paul (Dusseldorf 1836) and Elijah (Birmingham 1846) enjoyed immediate success, indeed the popularity of Elijah in Britain was, among oratorios, second only to Handel's Messiah, and the field of oratorio was the most highly regarded of all music at that time. Elijah has continued to be performed with regularity in the decades since. Both works were composed to German texts, as Paulus and Elias, respectively, and were translated into English for their first performances here.

As with those Handel oratorios we have listed on an operatic website, our reasoning is simply that we wish to include the large number of notable artists who performed oratorio in Scotland, even if their operatic appearances were few, if any.


Main Characters

Elijah (bass-baritone)

Obadiah (tenor I)

Angel (contralto I)

Widow (soprano I)

Ahab (tenor II)

Boy (treble)

Queen (contralto II)

Soprano II

Bass II & III

The Cast

Soprano I
Soprano II

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