Berkshire Choral Festival

Handel

Concert: June 28 at St. Patrick’s Chapel, St. Patrick’s College
Conductor: Joseph Cullen
Symphony: Maynooth Symphonia

Handel: Jephtha

While writing Jephtha in 1751, Handel’s sight began to fail, and it proved to be his last oratorio. By the time he finished, he was almost completely blind. Apropos of both the biblical story on which it is based and the tragedy of Handel’s failing physical faculties at the height of his creative powers, the piece courses with themes of fate and resignation: “Whatever is, is right.”

This story revolves around the warrior Jephtha’s promise to God that if he is victorious in leading the Israelites in battle against the Ammonites, he will sacrifice the first creature he meets on his return. That turns out to be his beloved daughter Iphis. The biblical story, from the book of Judges, strongly suggests that Jephtha ultimately kept his promise, but in Handel’s version an angel intervenes. This masterpiece is especially noted for the recitative Deeper, and deeper still and the aria Waft her, angels, thro' the skies, one of Handel's most beautiful.