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( Creation in the Opera, on February 28, 1862)

Situation : Au royaume biblique de Soliman





fort ténor



première basse de grand opéra



second ténor






première basse d'opéra-comique



deuxième et troisième basse



chanteuse falcon








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 Adoniram's neck.


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 Soliman.
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 sluggish hand.


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 ").

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To write:

Sapho - La Nonne sanglante - Le médecin malgré lui - Faust - Philémon et Baucis - La colombe
La reine de Saba - Mireille - Roméo et Juliette - Cinq-Mars - Polyeucte - Le tribut de Zamora