Information about the programme
In the figure of Elijah, Mendelssohn sought to portray a prophet who was “strong and zealous, but also evil, irate and sinister”. Elijah was meant to be a flesh-and-blood human being who undergoes a radical conversion and reaches the limits of human existence. He takes the form of a militant fanatic, a resigned sceptic and finally a man of divine inspiration. The oratorio, with its protean hero, is pervaded by an unrelenting arc of tension in which Mendelssohn creates spectacular scenes of almost visceral theatricality. Listeners are virtually thrust into its various episodes – the famine, the miracles of fire and rain, the enraged masses or the prophet’s final ascension to heaven.