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Handel's Israelite Oratorio LibrettiSacred Drama and Biblical Exegesis$
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Deborah W. Rooke

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279289

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279289.001.0001

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Introit: Handel and Israelite oratorio

Introit: Handel and Israelite oratorio

(p.xv) Introit: Handel and Israelite oratorio
Handel's Israelite Oratorio Libretti

Deborah W. Rooke

Oxford University Press

This introductory chapter outlines how Handel came to develop Israelite oratorio in the context of his career as an opera impresario. It then goes on to define ‘Israelite oratorio’, describing the genre's formal elements and locating Israelite oratorio in relation to the already‐existing genres of opera seria and oratorio. It describes the role of the librettist and the many variables that had to be taken account of when writing a libretto. Finally, it considers Israelite oratorio's use of biblical subject‐matter. Others have argued that under the so‐called ‘British Israel’ paradigm, biblical topics were used to comment on contemporary political situations, but the manner of the topics' use in the libretti can also reveal much about eighteenth‐century religious and theological concerns. It is these in particular that the present study aims to elucidate, by comparing the libretti with their biblical sources and then setting them in their eighteenth‐century context.

Keywords:   George Frideric Handel, Israelite oratorio, opera seria, libretti, British Israel paradigm

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