Opera Scotland

Kingdom The Kingdom

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Edward Elgar (born Broadheath, Worcs, 2 June 1857; died Woecester, 23 February 1934)


The composer.





First Performance: Birmingham (Town Hall), 3 October 1906.

First Performance in Scotland: tbc.



The Kingdom is the second of a projected trilogy of works. The first, The Apostles, appeared in 1903, while the final part progressed no further than some sketches. This oratorio contains some of the most beautiful music that Elgar ever wrote. It is also more consistently structured than his other oratorios, even if it is unlikely ever to equal the great popularity of Gerontius.



Peter (bass)

Mary (soprano)

Mary Magdalene (contralto)

John (tenor)



The matter of The Kingdom is the determination to show that the Apostles were ordinary men who, by the Grace of God, do extraordinary things. This involves the visiting of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at Pentecost and the emergence of Peter as their leader.

The first part, set in an upper room, introduces the four solo roles, Mary, Mary Magdalene, St John the Apostle, and Peter, the dominant one.  It shows Matthias supplanting Judas as the twelfth Apostle.

The second part, on Pentecost morning, takes the form of a duet for the two Marys. In Part Three, once again in the upper chamber, the Holy Spirit descends, narrated by the contralto soloist. The men are ecstatic, and Peter announces that they are all sinners who must be baptised.

In the fourth part, Peter and John are depicted healing a lame man and glorifying God. They are promptly arrested, and Mary then sings a rapturous benediction - the most famous part of the work, 'The Sun goeth down'.

Part five returns to the Upper Room, where the disciples pray  thankfully for the fact that Peter and John have been released. The essembled gathering celebrates communion and sings the Lord's Prayer together.

The Cast

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