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Classical Music - Handel’s Israelites in Egypt

The story of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt is told in the second book of the Old Testament, Exodus, and is the basis of this oratorio by Handel, which preceded his more famous Messiah by three years. And what a story it is. Moses, formerly a loyal Hebrew subject of Egypt, returns after 40 years in the wilderness to lead the Hebrew people out of the country to save them from persecution. When negotiations with the Pharaoh prove fruitless, he invokes a series of supernatural disasters to break the Egyptians’ will. He fills the Nile with blood, and sends plagues of frogs, lice, flies, locusts, cattle pestilence, boils and hail. He then creates a great darkness and - a crushing blow this one – causes the death of all Egypt’s first-born sons. The Pharaoh decides to let the Israelites go, then changes his mind and sends an army to attack them as they flee. The Hebrews escape through a miraculous gap in the Red Sea, which then engulfs the Egyptian army as it follows them.

Handel’s work, performed here by the Fayrfax singers, tells the story of the oppression, the plagues and the escape: listen out for frogs, hail and locusts. It finishes with The Song of Moses, a triumphant chorus proclaiming victory. It should be quite an event on the cavernous interior of St John Sub Castro. AG

Israel in Egypt: Handel’s take on the Middle East

St John Sub Castro
When? 7.30pm
How Much? £12
(t) 01273 480189