The Queen Of Sheba
DIE KOeNIGIN VON SABA
In four acts by CHARLES GOLDMARK.
Text by MOSENTHAL.
Charles Goldmark was born in Hungary in 1852. He received his musical
education in Vienna.
The well-known name of Mosenthal is in itself a warrant that the
libretto is excellently suited to the music. The opera is considered
one of the best and finest of our modern compositions.
It is noble, original and full of brilliant orchestral effects, which,
united to a grand, not to say gorgeous mise en scene, captivate our
The contents are these:
A magnificent wedding is to be celebrated in King Solomon's palace at
Jerusalem. The High-priest's daughter, Sulamith, is to marry Assad,
King Solomon's favorite. But the lover, who has in a foreign country
seen a most beautiful and haughty woman bathing in a forest-well, is
now in love with the stranger and has forgotten his destined
Returning home Assad confesses his error to the wise King and Solomon
bids him wed Sulamith and forget the heathen. Assad gives his promise,
praying to God to restore peace to his breast.
Then enters the Queen of Sheba in all her glory, followed by a
procession of slaves and suitors. Next to her litter walks her
principal slave, Astaroth.
The Queen comes to offer her homage to the great Solomon with all the
gifts of her rich kingdom.
She is veiled, and nobody has seen her yet, as only before the King
will she unveil herself.
When she draws back the veil, shining in all her perfect beauty, Assad
starts forward; he recognizes her; she is his nymph of the forest. But
the proud Queen seems to know him not, she ignores him altogether.
Solomon and Sulamith try to reassure themselves, to console Assad, and
the Queen hears Solomon's words: "To-morrow shall find you united to
your bride!" She starts and casts a passionate look on the unfortunate
The Queen is full of raging jealousy of the young bride. But though
she claims Assad's love for herself, she is yet too proud to resign her
crown, and so, hesitating between love and pride, she swears vengeance
on her rival. Under the shade of night her slave-woman, Astaroth,
allures Assad to the fountain, where he finds the Queen, who
employs all her arts again to captivate him, succeeding alas, only too
Morning dawns and with it the day of Assad's marriage with Sulamith.
Solomon and the High-priest conduct the youth to the altar, but just as
he is taking the ring, offered to him by the bride's father, the Queen
of Sheba appears, bringing as wedding-gift a golden cup, filled with
Assad, again overcome by the Queen's dazzling beauty, throws the ring
away and precipitates himself at her feet. The Levites detain him, but
Solomon guessing at the truth, implores the Queen to speak. Assad
invokes all the sweet memories of their past, the Queen hesitates, but
her pride conquers. For the second time she disowns him.--Now
everybody believes Assad possessed by an evil spirit, and the priests
at once begin to exorcise it; it is all but done, when one word of the
Queen's, who sweetly calls him "Assad", spoils everything. He is in
her hands: falling on his knees before her, he prays to her as to his
goddess. Wrathful at this blasphemy in the temple, the priests demand
Assad asks no better, Sulamith despairs and the Queen repents having
gone so far. In the great tumult Solomon alone is unmoved. He detains
the priests with dignity, for he alone will judge Assad.
There now follows a charming ballet, given in honor of the Queen of
Sheba. At the end of the meal, the Queen demands Assad's pardon from
Solomon. He refuses her request. She now tries to ensnare the
King with her charms, as she did Assad, but in vain. Solomon sees her
in her true light and treats her with cold politeness. Almost beside
herself with rage, the Queen threatens to take vengeance on the King
and to free Assad at any risk.
Solomon, well understanding the vile tricks of the eastern Queen, has
changed the verdict of death into that of exile. Sulamith, faithful
and gentle, entreats for her lover, and has only one wish: to sweeten
life to her Assad, or to die with him.
We find Assad in the desert. He is broken down and deeply repents his
folly, when, lo, the Queen appears once more, hoping to lure him with
soft words and tears. But this time her beauty is lost upon him: he
has at last recognized her false soul; with noble pride he scorns her,
prefering to expiate his follies, by dying in the desert. He curses
her, praying to God to save him from the temptress.--Henceforth he
thinks only of Sulamith and invokes Heaven's benediction on her. He is
dying in the dreadful heat of the desert, when Sulamith appears, the
faithful one who without resting has sought her bridegroom till now.
But alas, in vain she kneels beside him couching his head on her bosom;
his life is fast ebbing away.--Heaven has granted his last wish; he
sees Sulamith before his death and with the sigh: "Liberation!", he
sinks back and expires.
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