With his exceptionally expressive oratorio Paulus (St. Paul) in 1836 Felix Mendelssohn brought a new creative impulse to the liturgical choir music of the 19th century. Moreover, in a tumultuous musical climate, he set a long-awaited high water mark for the romantic-religious emotional experience.

In two balanced parts, Mendelssohn depicts the life of the convert Paul, the former persecutor of Christians, who, after a dramatic encounter with the resurrected Redeemer, became the most significant of the early Christian apologists. Paulus became one of Mendelssohn’s greatest successes and made him the most celebrated composer of his day in both Germany and England. ‘For a Jewish convert to Protestantism, he’s done quite well in Christianity’, his contemporary Heinrich Heine quipped. 

While the liturgical works of his contemporaries largely sacrificed their religious integrity to the pomp of the large concert halls, Mendelssohn sought inspiration in the devout baroque style of Georg Friedrich Händel and J.S. Bach, whose Weihnachtsoratorium he had rediscovered in 1829. With his masterful balance between Händel’s exuberance and the contrapuntal perfection of Bach, in Paulus Mendelssohn proved himself a worthy contender with the baroque masters themselves. At the same time, he enriches the oratorio style with a frivolity and clarity that can only be compared to Mozart. Paulus is Mendelssohn’s romantic response to the baroque oratorio, and was matched in the 19th-century perhaps only by his own oratorio Elias.

The orchestra and chorus of Opera Vlaanderen will be performing this concert conducted by Cornelius Meister, chief conductor and artistic director of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, who is also conducting Der fliegende Holländer for us this season.


  • Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847): Oratorio, opus 36 for soprano, alto, tenor, bass, choir and orchestra
Length: ca. 2 h 15 min  

Discover our team

Cornelius Meister
Jan Schweiger
Sylvia Schwartz
Maria Kataeva

Notify me

Leave us your e-mail address and we will notify you when ticket sales start for this production. (Warning: notifications will be sent in Dutch)