The oratorio was due to be staged at Emmanuel College ChapelPhoto by DAVID ILIFF / License: CC BY-SA 3.0 / CC BY-SA 3.0 Deed | Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported | Creative Commons

A production of Handel’s oratorio Saul has been cancelled on the grounds of similarities with current events in Israel and Gaza.

The decision comes as tensions grow regarding the University’s response to the Israel-Gaza conflict.

The cancelled opera retells biblical narratives and depicts warfare between the ancient Israelites and Philistines, and “includes eerily prescient ideas”, according to its website.

The event description draws attention to such “prescience”, including a content notice which requests audiences to note the “political parallels to the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine.”

The performance, staged by the Cambridge University Opera Society, was due to begin on Thursday (26/10) at Emmanuel College Chapel.

An email announcing the cancellation was sent to the CUOS mailing list last Saturday morning (21/10).

In the email, CUOS President Beth Norman stated: “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 Handel’s Saul will not go ahead.”

Max Mason, the production’s director, said in the same notice: “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 surmounting understanding of the full situation, we realise we cannot continue,” he explained.


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The email also stated that all ticket holders would receive a refund.

The ADC’s ticketing website states that the oratorio is a “reimagining” of biblical plots which “emphasises 21st-century ideas of populism, tyranny and political turmoil”.

When contacted by Varsity for further comment, the organisers declined to provide details beyond those in the original email.