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The Wandering Jew

Martin Handley presents the premiere of Robert Saxton's opera The Wandering Jew, a modernist take on the tale of the shoe mender condemned to walk the earth until the Second Coming.

Presented by Martin Handley.

A World-premiere recording and broadcast of The Wandering Jew, an opera with music and libretto by Robert Saxton. This opera, commissioned by BBC Radio 3, is a modernist take on the tale of the Wandering Jew, the shoe-mender condemned by Jesus to wander the earth until the Second Coming after he refused to help him on his way to his crucifixion. The opera also introduces many legendary characters, following medieval and other myths: Faust, Mephistopheles, Kundry, Wotan... Underneath its surface lies a structure relating to the annual cycle of Jewish and Christian festivals, which is combined with a plan of 'rising' tonal centres. 'All the music - both vocal and orchestral - is derived from a basic diatonic note-set', explains the composer. Saxton's version is concerned with Reconciliation as the Wandering Jew is eventually reconciled with Jesus in a journey that takes eight scenes. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers perform with a line-up of starry soloists led by Roderick Williams as the Wandering Jew and Tim Mirfin as Jesus.

Roderick Williams (Wandering Jew)
Tim Mirfin (Jesus/Beggar)
Teresa Cahill (Widowed Mother)
Simon Paisley Day (Showman)
Hilary Summers (Fortune Teller)
Louise Winter (Kundry)
Geoffrey Lloyd-Roberts (Faust)
Brindley Sherratt (Mephistopheles)
Graeme Danby (Odin)
Jeremy White (The Old Man)

BBC Singers
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Andre de Ridder (conductor)

Followed by our focus this week on music by the Jewish Diaspora.

2 hours, 15 minutes

Broadcast