is an oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...
in three acts written by George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music...
with a libretto by Charles Jennens
Charles Jennens was an English landowner and patron of the arts, who assembled the text for five of Handel's oratorios: Saul, Israel in Egypt, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Messiah, and Belshazzar...
. Taken from the 1st Book of Samuel
The Books of Samuel in the Jewish bible are part of the Former Prophets, , a theological history of the Israelites affirming and explaining the Torah under the guidance of the prophets.Samuel begins by telling how the prophet Samuel is chosen by...
, the story of Saul
-People:Saul is a given/first name in English, the Anglicized form of the Hebrew name Shaul from the Hebrew Bible:* Saul , including people with this given namein the Bible:* Saul , a king of Edom...
focuses on the first king of Israel’s relationship with his eventual successor, David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...
; one which turns from admiration to envy and hatred, ultimately leading to the downfall of the eponymous monarch. The work, which Handel began in 1738, includes the famous Dead March, a funeral anthem
The term anthem means either a specific form of Anglican church music , or more generally, a song of celebration, usually acting as a symbol for a distinct group of people, as in the term "national anthem" or "sports anthem".-Etymology:The word is derived from the Greek via Old English , a word...
for Saul and his son Jonathan, and some of the composer's most dramatic choral pieces. Saul was first performed at the King’s Theatre in London on January 16, 1739.
- Saul (bass)
- Merab (soprano)
Michal was a daughter of Saul, king of Israel, who loved and became the wife of David, who later became king of Judah, and later still of the united Kingdom of Israel....
- Jonathan (tenor)
- David (countertenor)
- Samuel (bass)
- High Priest (tenor)
- Witch of Endor
The Witch of Endor, sometimes called the Medium of Endor, was a woman who called up the ghost of the recently deceased prophet Samuel, at the demand of King Saul of the Kingdom of Israel in the First Book of Samuel, chapter...
In the Book of Samuel, Abner , is first cousin to Saul and commander-in-chief of his army...
- Amalekite (tenor)
Doeg was an Edomite, chief herdsman to Saul, King of Israel.He is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible book of First Samuel, chapters 21 and 22, where he is depicted as responsible for the deaths of a large number of priests.-Biblical account:...
- Chorus of Israelites
- Libretto for Saul on WikiSource
Wikisource is an online digital library of free content textual sources on a wiki, operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. Its aims are to host all forms of free text, in many languages, and translations. Originally conceived as an archive to store useful or important historical texts, it has...
- Program notes by Boston Cecilia
The Boston Cecilia is a choral society in Boston, Massachusetts, which is in its 132nd season. Founded in 1876, the ensemble has enjoyed historic relationships with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and famous conductors and composers, such as Arthur Fiedler, Igor Stravinsky, and Antonín Dvořák...
- Full-text libretto online.