LA REINE DE SABA|
( Creation in the Opera, on February 28,
Situation : Au royaume biblique de
première basse de grand
Act I. Adoniram's studio.
Adoniram is disturbed by the limits of the mortal artist
that he is and calls it up on his divine ancestor,
Tubalkaïn, to help him in his latest projects: the cast
iron of a monumental bowl, the sea of bronze (air: "
Inspirez-moi, race divine! ". His thoughts are interrupted
by the entrance of his young pupil, Benoni, who announces to
him that the illustrious Balkis, the queen of Saba, will
arrive soon in Jerusalem to visit Soliman. Benoni sings her
legendary beauty (romance: " Comme la naissante aurore ").
Adoniram receives then three of his workers - Amrou, Phanor
and Méthousaël; they demand a better salary and
the secret password than only the master craftsmen can know.
Adoniram rejects their request and, after a short appearance
of the high priest Sadoc to escort Adoniram to an audience
that granted him by the king and his radiant guest, the
three workers swear to take revenge (quartet and trio: " Il
nous repousse "). In front of the temple. A long
instrumental walk announces the arrival of Soliman and
Balkis (procession and finale). The assembled crowd, among
which are a large number of Adoniram's workers, welcomes the
royal couple with joyful cheers. When this noisy reception
calms down, Soliman expresses his love for Balkis and asks
her for a ring which she promised him in symbol of their
engagement. Balkis hands it to him reluctantly. She is
amazed at the magnificence of the temple, and demands to
meet the architect. When Adoniram appears, Balkis praises
the magnificence of his work; her voice wakes in him an echo
of his ancestral lineage. To answer a demand of the queen,
Adoniram calls up the attention of the assembled crowd with
a mysterious signal of the hand; in this gesture, the
members of the different corporations regroup among them and
walk near Soliman and Balkis in perfect order. Soliman is
horrified by the control which Adoniram exercises on such a
big part of the population. However, Balkis is so impressed
that she removes her necklace and places it around
Acte II. The plateau of Zion. One sees a blast furnace
behind of the scene.
The workers of Adoniram announce to him that everything is
ready for the casting of the sea of bronze, but for the
moment the recollection of the meeting with Balkis worries
him. He calms down and announces to his followers that they
are about to live a decisive moment. Soliman and Balkis
arrive to attend the casting. As the melted metal is
released from the blast furnace, Benoni rushes to Soliman to
announce to him that three traitors, among his workers, have
sabotaged the project. Soliman declares that it is too late
to take measures. The three culprits - Amrou, Phanor and
Méthousaël - exult when a torrent of melted
metal pours in a uncontrolled way out of the blast furnace
to destroy the mould. Everybody rushes quickly to cover.
Under Adoniram's eyes, the blast furnace explodes.
Acte III. A clearing in a wood of cedars and palm
trees; the laundry of Balkis's suite.
After two choirs and a ballet of the handmaids of the Queen
and their homologues at Soliman's court, Balkis's sings the
feelings that Adoniram aroused in her (cavatina: " Plus
grand dans son obscurité "). Contrary to all
expectations, the artist appears on the scene. He is
discouraged by the failure of the casting of the sea of
bronze and, declaring that he is not worthy of the Queen, he
tears away the necklace which she gave him (duet: "
Qu'importe ma gloire effacée "). When she admits that
she does not love Soliman, he is more inclined to reveal to
her the attraction she exercises on him. Balkis ends the
duet by declaring openly her love for Adoniram. Their
meeting is suddenly interrupted by Benoni, who tells them
that the Djinns, (spirits of the Tubalkaïn's
subterranean realm), repaired the mould and that the bowl is
finished and henceforth in place. In answer to Balkis's
question on this surprising form of events, Adoniram admits
that he is protected by the Djinns and that he is of the
same blood as the Queen due to their common ancestor, Nemrod
the hunter. Adoniram, Balkis, her confidante Sarahil and
Benoni sing a prayer of thanks to Tubalkaïn, whereas
Amrou, Phanor and Méthousaël skip secretly in
the backstage, mumbling that they are going to inform
Soliman of of what they have witnessed. (septet: " O
Tubalkaïn, mon père ").
Acte IV. A vast room in the summer palace of king
A ceremonial choir (choir: " Soliman notre roi ") begins by
countering the depressed state of mind of the King. Balkis
has not appeared for four days to conclude the wedding pact,
which brings Soliman to wonder upon the insignificance of
her affection for him (story and cavatina: " Sous les pieds
d'une femme "). Sadoc announces that Amrou, Phanor and
Méthousaël wait for an audience. They come to
tell Soliman about the night-meeting of Adoniram and Balkis
and urge him to take measures (quartet: " Hâtez-vous
de parler "). Remembering that they are the three workers
who interrupted the casting of the sea of bronze, Soliman
refuses to believe them. Doubts assail the King, however,
when Adoniram comes to ask him to be relieved of his duties,
Soliman tries to dissuade him, by offering to share power
with him on an equal basis . The artist rejects this
proposition with disdain and leaves with dignity. Soliman
abandons Adoniram to " eternal justice " and gets ready to
receive the Queen. Alone with the King, Balkis asks him for
a extra day before their marriage, and calms him by
promising him one hour of her time, at once (duet: " Elle
est en mon pouvoir "). He admits that he was informed about
the illicit night-meeting and, in his drunken state,
alternates threats with declarations of love to the Queen.
When he tries to embrace Balkis by force, Sarahil comes from
behind a curtain and pours a strong narcotic into the cup of
the King. The potion produces quickly its effect and, while
the King falls unconscious, he curses Balkis. She takes
advantage of the occasion to remove the ring off Soliman's
Act V. A ravine isolated by stormy weather.
Adoniram waits worriedly for the Queen to run away with her.
He is surprised by the sudden appearance of Amrou, Phanor
and Méthousaël. The three workers press him to
give in to their demands, but Adoniram answers only with
contemptuous remarks (quartet: " Tes yeux ont su me
reconnaître "). They stab him and run away. Balkis
arrives with the lethally wounded artist and, after a final
embrace, slides on his finger the ring which she had taken
back from Soliman. The slaves and the suite of the Queen
rush to attend her brief panegyric on the body (finale: "
Emportons dans la nuit ").