Tobias' rediscovered original version of 'Jonah' to premiere in Tallinn

On 13 October, Tõnu Kaljuste will perform Rudolf Tobias' "Jonah" ("Joonas") in Estonian for the first time, and as the composer intended it. The oratorio will be recorded the week before the concert.

Tobias composed Estonia's first oratorio "Joonas" in 1907. It was performed in Leipzig two years later, but due to mediocre reception, it was neglected for nearly 80 years, until pianist and politician Vardo Rumessen revived it during Estonia's national renaissance in 1986-1989.

Rumessen made several changes to the composition, which was then performed again in 1989 as "Des Jona Sendung" ("Jonah's Mission").

The libretto, written by Tobias' daughter Silvia and discovered by accident among her correspondence in an old suitcases left in Tobias' apartment on Gonsiori tänav, was crucial in determining the composer's original intention and lyrics. Among other significant differences, the original text is written in Estonian.

This time, Tobias' "Jonah" will be performed as the composer originally intended.

"We have added the Estonian text, which was transcribed by Tobias' daughter, Silvia Tobias. A few years ago, we discovered a sample of the libretto in Estonian, written by Rudolf Tobias, in a suitcases Silvia left in Estonia, confirming the composer's intention to perform the work in Estonian in his homeland," said Mai Simson, who is researching the music of Rudolf Tobias.

There will be 120 musicians performing the composition. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, and conductor Tnu Kaljuste will be performing on stage; soloists Mirjam Mesak (soprano, Bavarian State Opera), Kai Rüütel-Pajula (mezzo-soprano), Mati Turi (tenor), Taavi Tampuu (Joonas, baritone) and Raiko Raalik (bass, Estonian National Opera) and the Chorus Mysticus with Maria Listra (soprano), Kadri Tegelmann (mezzo-soprano), Endrik Üksvärav (tenor) and Tamar Nugis (bass, Estonian National Opera).

Rudolf Tobias was Estonia's first professional composer and this year marks the 150th anniversary of his birth.

The concert of Tobias' oratorio "Jonah" will take place on October 13 at 7 p.m. in Methodist Church in Tallinn.


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Editor: Karmen Rebane, Kristina Kersa

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