Welcome as the Dawn of Day
Recit. & Duet from Solomon
for 2 sopranos (e’-f’’#; b-d’’), 2 violins, bassi & bc
When he was resident at Cannons, Handel composed two English masques, Acis and Galatea, and Esther. Some years later, with the declining popularity of Italian opera in London, he revised and expanded Esther for public performance at the Kings Theatre in 1732 . This was a success with the public, and thereafter oratorio became an established part of the London musical season.
His numerous works in this new genre included Messiah, composed in 1741. Solomon received its first performance as part of the 1749 season in Covent Garden. It is generally supposed that this work, with its depiction of Solomon’s piety, his wisdom, and the prosperity of his reign, was Handel’s tribute to King George II, in the relatively calm period after the end of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745, and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748.
This Duet is from Act 1 of the oratorio, and portrays the state of wedded bliss of Solomon and his Queen. This draws an approving comment from Zadok the priest. The duet is succeeded by an urgent invitation by Solomon for his Queen to retire with him to the cedar grove where "am'rous turtles" make love.