Cambridge University’s opera society has canceled its performances of Händel’s “Saul.”
Per a statement issued by the student body, Beth Norman, the president of the society, “It is with heavy heart that CUOS are announcing that due to the current sensitive political situation and unfortunate escalation of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and Israel, we have decided that the production of Händel’s ‘Saul’ will not go ahead. I would like to thank the production team, cast and musicians for all the hard work they have put into this project and we shall look forward to a concert of works by Händel at the end of the term. Of course, anybody who purchsed a ticket will be in receipt of a full refund and any questions please get in touch with [email protected].”
The statement was seconded by Max Mason, the director of the show who noted that “The unfolding situation in Gaza and the Middle East had shocked and appalled all people around the world, and especially those who have some personal connection to the region. Whilst it may seem like Cambridge is a world away from these issues, there are people who live in our colleges & household who are facing unimaginable difficulties as they watch the situation unfold. Given the parallels to this conflict, the production team made the difficult decision to cancel ‘Saul.’ We came to the unanimous conclusion that our production was not in the place to fully confront the issues that have striking synchronicity with the ongoing Middle East conflict. We began rehearsals before news of Gaza emerged, but, now with a surmounting understanding of the full situation, we realise we cannot continue.”
The oratorio opens with David slaying the Philistine Goliath; the name Palestine is derived from the Philistines who lived in modern-day Gaza nearly 3,000 years ago.