The story follows biblical character Jephtha as he leads a battle for the Israelites against the Ammonites, but makes a pact with God to sacrifice the first living thing that he sees on his return if he can be victorious.
And this being opera, that deal is obviously doomed to end in tears.
Stylish and distinctive Although slow to get going and absent of the famous arias found in more household name operas, the build up of tension in Jephtha and the moments when the chorus sings together are a real highlight.
The contrast between Jephtha's torment and the brighter scenes featuring the joy of his young in-love daughter, Iphis, also work well side by side.
Transferred in costume and set to a war-torn 1930s, this is a stylish and distinctive production of the oratorio.
Jephtha has stylish costumes. WNO credit Bill Cooper
Handel's eye trouble Handel experienced much trouble with his eyes while worked on this score in 1751, a decade after the success of Messiah. This period was when he first started experiencing weakness in his left eye, which would soon lead to blindness and limit his career. In fact, when Jephtha was first performed in 1752, Handel had already lost the sight in one eye.
Lasting three hours, with two intervals, Jephtha may be lesser known, but it is a memorable oratorio that more seasoned opera fans should enjoy.
The Welsh National Opera production continues at Liverpool Empire Theatre on November 20 and at Bristol Hippodrome on November 27.