During the writing of the previously mentioned scene with Procula and Deborah I began to think about an overture and how it might set the scene for the opening aria. From her window in the Herodian Palace Procula would have been able to see the smoke rising from the Temple and also would have been able to hear the sound of the trumpets. However, she would not have been able to hear the voices of the Levites and their children as they sang during the times of the morning and evening sacrifices. I decided to use the time of the evening sacrifices (according to The Temple the time would have been about 3:30 p.m. Also on the fifth day of the week the Psalm sung was Psalm 81.) The singing of the Levites and their children was in unison accompanied by flutes, harps, and lutes.
A cymbal crash begins the service. A third of the Psalm is sung, then a special trumpet call is heard followed by the murmured prayers of the congregation. (I plan to use various phrases in Hebrew for the unseen chorus to murmur.) The singing of the next third of the Psalm and the final third continues in the same fashion. On the final trumpet call the curtain rises and we see Procula looking out the window at the city of Jerusalem. Her opening aria begins.
For the overture I again used Jewish melodies for the song of the Levites and their children. The offstage chorus that ends the opera will also use this opening melody. Here is the first section of the overture containing the first part of Psalm 81, the words of which are:
Be happy and shout,
Shout to God who makes us strong.
Shout praise to the God, the God of Jacob.
Sing as you play tambourines and the lovely stringed instruments.
Sound the trumpets.
The overture is scored for harp, flute, cymbals and plucked second violins and violas representing the lutes. (This is a MIDI realization in which the choir is heard as “Ahs” instead of words. Eventually “murmers of prayers” will fill the silent measures.) Click here to play the excerpt.