Mendelssohn recounted the experience in a letter to his brother. “No work of mine went so admirably the first time of execution, or was received with such enthusiasm by both the musicians and the audience,” he wrote.
“Elijah” depicts events in the life of the Prophet Elijah as told in the books 1 Kings and 2 Kings of the Old Testament. He expresses the divine will to the mankind, and saves from natural disasters, diseases, and death. Elijah defended the worship of the Hebrew God over that of the Canaanite deity Baal. He was taken from earth to heaven by God.
All the episodes – of the plot or narrative – make up a composition similar to that of opera. In two parts of the oratorio, they are united in larger scenes. Basic episodes of the first part are drought and famine, feeding by ravens, resurrection of the widow’s son, etc. While the second part depicts Elijah’s escape, and his ascension to Heaven, while he’s still alive. Prophecy of the Messiah’s coming is the final.
Unusually for an oratorio, Elijah’s orchestral overture is preceded by an aria that introduces the main character and sets the tone for the rest of the work. In it Elijah delivers a stern warning that God will send a drought as punishment for Israel’s embrace of idolatry.
The concert is supported by the Embassy of Germany in Russia