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Israel in Egypt, Handel’s retelling of the Book of Exodus, is an oratorio—a non-theatrical opera. Instead of performers acting out the story, a double chorus recites it to you in song. Handel chose the format to get around church bans on stage productions of the Bible or theater during Lent. The oratorio was unpopular when it was first performed in 1739, and it’s been overshadowed by Handel’s Messiah ever since (Congress has seemingly passed legislation requiring it be performed the week before Christmas in every city in the United States.) Israel in Egypt has no flashy solos or solo performers. So why see it? Because, with 28 choruses, five arias, and three duets, it is a choral feast—in the words of one director, “a choral singer’s dream.” The City Choir of Washington will sing about plagues of insects, rivers turning to blood, infanticide, and other demonstrations of the loving vengeance of the Old Testament God.
THE PERFORMANCE BEGINS AT 8 P.M. AT NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE’S RACHEL M. SCHLESINGER CONCERT HALL AND ARTS CENTER, 3001 N. BEAUREGARD ST., ALEXANDRIA. $26–$45. (703) 845-6156.