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An oratorio (English plural oratorios) is usually described as a large-scale musical composition for orchestra, choir, and soloists, usually in narrative form and often based on a sacred theme.

Unlike an opera, which is seen as a piece of musical theatre, an oratorio is strictly considered to be a concert piece, and which tends to be performed without costume, scenery, or action.

An oratorio is referred to as an oratorium in Dutch, German and Afrikaans (the plural being oratoria in this case).

The best known examples include Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Handel's Messiah, and Haydn's The Creation.

Some South African oratorios

South African examples include:

Christus Komst (1864, by the Paarl-based composer J.S. de Villiers) and Zion en Babylon (1867, by the reverend G.W.A. van der Lingen and J.S. de Villiers).



F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.285-6

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