Calixto Bieito stages Mendelssohn's "Elias" at the Theater an der Wien.
King Ahab of Israel has abandoned Jehovah and now worships Baal, the god of his wife Jezebel. Large parts of the population of Israel have also allowed themselves to be influenced by her: they are no longer interested in Jehovah and have become disciples of Baal. The prophet Elijah angrily condemns this sinful lack of faith and announces a great drought as punishment, which immediately arrives. Obadiah, a comrade of Elijah, vainly urges the people of Israel to show remorse, but they distance themselves more and more from Jehovah. At the command of the angels, Elijah leaves his people. He is directed to go to Zarephath. There, God performs a miracle through him: Elijah brings a widow’s dead son back to life. By doing so he demonstrates the power of God and shows that God has chosen him. Three years later, Elijah returns to King Ahab and demands that the prophet Baal prove his divinity by performing a miracle of fire. The people ecstatically call to their god, but there is no answer and he does not show himself. With all eyes trained on him, Elijah asks his God to reveal His power through a fire miracle — and Jehovah heeds him. The people of Israel are converted. At Elijah’s behest, they angrily turn on the priests of Baal and murder them. Now Elijah prays for the drought to end. He sends a boy up the mountain who eventually sees and announces the approaching rain. The people praise the Lord. However, Ahab has not truly converted. Elijah again accuses him of worshipping false gods and prophesies further punishments for the people of Israel. Ahab’s wife, Queen Jezebel, also stirs up her people against the troublesome prophet Elijah who, she says, is setting himself above the power of the king. Because he is responsible for murdering the priests of Baal, he too must die. Obadiah instructs the desperate Elijah to flee into the desert. Angels again guide his path, this time to the mountain of Horeb. There, Jehovah appears to him and commands him to continue his fight against idolatry before He takes him up to heaven in a chariot of fire. But then, says the Lord, another will come who will "preach the name of the Lord and tread on the rulers as if they were mortar".