Opera Scotland

Judas Maccabaeus 2009Edinburgh International Festival

Read more about the opera Judas Maccabaeus

One surprising feature of Edinburgh Festival music programmes over the years, especially since the establishment of the consistently superb Edinburgh Festival Chorus, has been the relative neglect of Handel's wonderful oratorios. With the recent Saul, in which Bryn Terfel, David Daniels and other stars were conducted by Mackerras, and here the great baroque specialist William Christie featuring in the Opening Concert with Judas Maccabaeus, perhaps that is beginning to change. The cast assembled was, once more, about as good as could be heard in this repertoire. Rosemary Joshua and Sarah Connolly were especially welcome, as ideal Handel performers.

On this occasion there was a half-hearted attempt in some quarters to criticise the Festival for mounting this piece at all, given the political background to its creation.The objectors tried to claim the work was anti-Scottish, composed as it was in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rebellion. This embryonic controversy was even orchestrated to some extent by the Festival's own publicity brochure - were they worried that with such a little-known oratorio the prestigious Opening Concert might not be a sell-out? While there can be little doubt that the work was composed as a pro-Protestant and anti-Catholic project, with the victorious 'butcher' Duke of Cumberland in a prominent role as 'conquering hero', that actually made it very popular in central Scotland right through to the twentieth century. However the relative unfashionability of religious bigotry in our own day may have caused a decline in frequency of performance. Given this oratorio's particular qualities, such neglect seems a pity.

Performance Cast

Israelitish Man

Sarah Connolly

Israelitish Woman

Rosemary Joshua

Simon brother of Judas Maccabaeus

Neal Davies

Judas Maccabaeus son of Mattathias

William Burden


Reno Troilus

Eupolemus Jewish Ambassador to Rome

Neal Davies

Performance DatesJudas Maccabaeus 2009

Map List

Usher Hall | Edinburgh

14 Aug, 19.00

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