“Will the sun forget to streak” from Solomon, HWV 67
George Frideric Handel
Though Handel had all voice types on hand for the premiere of his oratorio Solomon in 1749, he chose a female alto (Caterina Galli) for the title role opposite soprano Giulia Frasi in the double role as Solomon’s Queen and (in the final act) the Queen of Sheba. The latter, whose arrival music is one of Handel’s greatest hits, is not a love interest but a tourist and admirer from exotic lands. The lush orchestration of her aria features a composite sonority of oboe and transverse flute playing stately regal rhythms over pulsating harmonies in the strings, while the queen in modest phrases proclaims her admiration for Solomon’s wisdom and splendor.