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

senses.



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

bride.



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

Assad.



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

well.



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

pearls.



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

his death.



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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