This volume focuses on the story of Judith as presented by composers, librettists and playwrights over four centuries. Helen Leneman analyzes numerous examples of music, librettos and the librettists' views of Judith - strongly influenced by societal attitudes of their time - and how these works in turn suggest unexpected ways of understanding biblical women and their stories. Music adds nuances, colors and emotions, becoming a subtext that suggests character and emotions.
Leneman presents in-depth analyses of the librettos and music of 16 operas and oratorios based on the book of Judith that span 300 years (1694-1984), in addition to two influential plays that inspired several librettos in the nineteenth century. Exploring works by such varied composers as Vivaldi, Mozart, Parry, Honegger, Serov, Chadwick and von Reznicek, Leneman reveals the ways in which each adaptation expands, distils or reinterprets Judith's character and story. In this first ever extensive study of musical settings of the Book of Judith, Leneman enables the biblical heroine to transcend her source.