Richard Bratby

Cliché, cynicism and a car-crash finale: Royal Opera’s Jephtha reviewed

Still, better a million staged Jephthas than the gilded turd of a vanity project that the ENO presented under the title 7 Deaths of Maria Callas

Simplistic but superbly realised: Brindley Sherratt (Zebul), Allan Clayton (Jephtha) and Cameron Shahbazi (Hamor) in Royal Opera's Jephtha. Image: © Marc Brenner

London’s two opera houses have been busy staging non-operas. Handel’s English oratorio, Jephtha, is his final exercise in a form that only existed because it was, explicitly, not opera (Georgian theatres needed something to play during Lent). We know better today, and dramatised reboots of Handel oratorios are proliferating, possibly because – unlike his actual operas – they give the chorus something to do.

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