Opera Scotland

Solomon

Music

George Frideric Handel (born Halle, 23 February 1685; died London, 14 April 1759)

Text

Anon

Source

Old Testament (Kings, Chronicles and The Song of Solomon)

 

Premieres

First Performance: London (Covent Garden), 17 March 1749.

First Performance in Scotland: to be confirmed.

 

Background

Solomon marks a departure from the previous oratorios derived from Old Testament subjects. British involvement in continental wars was at an end, following the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, while at home the Jacobite threat had also been defeated. It was now time to celebrate the peace, and Solomon contains an important political marriage and the diplomatic visit by the exotic Queen of Sheba. International trade can thrive in peacetime, and money is now available for such expenditure as the building of the Temple. There are also demonstrations of the wisdom of Solomon.

Until quite recently, the important episode of the two harlots squabbling over a baby was deemed unsuitable for performance - indeed it was omitted completely from an otherwise enjoyable recording conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.

The whitewashing of the character of Solomon by omitting the biblical sequences that show his more tyrannical and dissolute sides would not have escaped contemporary audiences familiar with the scriptures.

 

Characters

Solomon, King of the Israelites (alto)

Solomon's Queen, Pharaoh's daughter (soprano)

First Harlot (soprano)

Second Harlot (mezzo-soprano)

Queen of Sheba (soprano)

Zadok, the High Priest (tenor)

A Levite (bass)

 

Plot Summary


The Cast

Attendant
 
First Harlot
 
Levite
 
Queen of Sheba
 
Second Harlot
 
Solomon
 King of the Israelites
Solomon's Queen
 the daughter of Pharaoh
Zadok
 the High Priest

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