Opera in four acts, two parts, in German with Hungarian and English surtitles
According to the ancient legend, the Queen of Sheba sought Truth and Wisdom, and when she heard of Solomon’s insight, she journeyed to Jerusalem to put the king’s knowledge to the test. Karl Goldmark was born into a devout Jewish family and although he lived in Vienna, he kept his Hungarian identity until death. The composer had a voice student whose exotic beauty someone once compared to that of the Queen of Sheba. This gave Goldmark the inspiration to write an opera about the Oriental queen. The libretto tells the tale of a love triangle. The Queen of Sheba unleashes her charms on one of Solomon’s diplomats, a young man engaged to the daughter of the High Priest of Jerusalem. The Opera’s production directed by Csaba Kéel premiered on the 100th anniversary of the composer’s death.
The festivities organised in honour of the Queen of Sheba's visit continue with a ballet. The queen is worried about Assad's fate and asks Solomon to pardon him. The king refuses, and the queen departs planning revenge. Sulamith and her companions enter the court singing a sorrowful song. She has now dedicated her life to God alone, but before departing on her way, begs for Assad's life. Solomon responds with a mysterious prophecy in which he foretells Sulamith's future. The upset girl leaves the palace and heads for the desert to lament her fate.
Solomon has shown clemency: Assad's death sentence has been commuted to banishment. The Queen of Sheba finds the youth in the vicinity of Sulamith's desert dwelling and attempts to convince him to go with her. But Assad resists the temptation and repents of his deed, hoping him that death will bring him redemption for his sin against God. As he prays for Sulamith, he is caught in a savage sandstorm. When the girl and her companions happen to find him, he is barely alive. The man asks for his love's forgiveness, which he receives before dying in the arms of his beloved.
“While most everything about the Hungarian State Opera’s Die Königin von Saba Friday was old-fashioned it was the most sheerly enjoyable night at the opera I’ve spent this whole year!“
Christopher Corwin, Parterre