Results 1 to 1 of 1

Thread: OTF - “S” for... “Samson”

    Bookmark and Share
  1. #1
    Senior Member Involved Member itywltmt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Post Thanks / Like

    Cool OTF - “S” for... “Samson”

    Most of my musings this month (here and elsewhere) fall under the broad thematic arc “S” for “September”, and today’s OTF post is no exception.

    Samson et Dalila (in English, Samson and Delilah), is a grand opera in three acts and four scenes by Camille Saint-Saëns to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire. It was first performed in Weimar on 2 December 1877 in a German translation.

    The opera is based on the well-known Biblical tale of Samson and Delilah found in Chapter 16 of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. Without getting into the detailed narrative, Samson was granted supernatural strength by God in order to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats. However, like many Old Testament heroes, Samson had vulnerabilities: his attraction to untrustworthy women and his hair, without which he was powerless. These vulnerabilities ultimately proved fatal for him.

    One such untrustworthy woman is, of course, Delilah. The Philistines approach Delilah and induce her (with 1100 silver coins each) to try to find the secret of Samson's strength – which she ultimately does, leading to his capture, torture, blindness and hard labour.

    Of course, Samson’s hair eventually grows back and, after imploring God for the return of his strength, causes the collapse of the main Philistine Temple, crushing to death his enemies and sacrificing himself in the process.

    The Saint-Saens operatic setting of the story skips much of the preamble to the biblical account, and assorted feats of strength, focusing on presenting Samson as the Champion and rebel leader of the Hebrews, defiant and – face it – cocky. In the final act, the captured Samson imploring God contrasts with the spectacular bacchanale scene (often performed as a concert favourite), followed by the climactic destruction of the Temple.

    [Video no longer available - link deleted by Admin]

    It is the only opera by Saint-Saëns that is regularly performed. The second act love scene in Delilah's tent is one of the set pieces that define French opera. Two of Delilah's arias are particularly well known: "Printemps qui commence" and "Mon cœur s'ouvre ŕ ta voix" ("My heart opens itself to your voice", also known as "Softly awakes my heart"), the latter of which is one of the most popular recital pieces in the mezzo-soprano/contralto repertoire.

    The performance

    Today’s performance is a live performance at the Metropolitan Opera House from 1953, featuring Rise Stevens and Mario del Monaco. Today’s conductor, Fausto Cleva, was one of the Met’s house conductors (in the tradition of Wilfrid Pelletier and Maurice Abravanel) and is remembered as a singer's maestro and a conscientious interpreter of bracing urgency, a shrewd mentor, and an individual of integrity.

    Cleva's studies began at the conservatory in his native Trieste and continued in Milan. Shortly after he had made his debut at Milan's Teatro Carcano in 1920 conducting La traviata, Cleva traveled to America, almost immediately beginning his long association with the Metropolitan Opera, serving as an assistant conductor from 1920 to 1925, and again from 1938 to 1940 (he served two stints as chorus master, as well, from 1935 to 1938 and in 1940 and 1941). He led his first performance at the Met on February 14, 1942.

    Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
    Samson et Dalila, opéra en 3 actes et 4 tableaux, op. 47
    French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire after the Old Testament

    Mario Del Monaco (Samson)
    Risë Stevens (Dalila)
    Martial Singher (High Priest)
    Norman Scott (Abimelech)
    Giorgio Tozzi (Old Hebrew)

    Orchestra and Chorus of the Metropolitan Opera
    Fausto Cleva, conducting
    (Live Performance, 14 March 1953)

    Opera Synopsis:
    Performance Link (MQCD Musique Classique):

    September 13 2013, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Leopold Stokowski" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more September 13 on theITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.
    Last edited by Ann Lander (sospiro); January 7th, 2018 at 06:45 PM.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

free html visitor counters
hit counter

Official Media Partners of Opera Carolina

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of Opera Carolina

Official Media Partners of NC Opera

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of North Carolina Opera

Official Media Partners of Greensboro Opera

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of Greensboro Opera

Official Media Partners of The A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute and Piedmont Opera

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of The A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute
of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Piedmont Opera

Official Media Partners of Asheville Lyric Opera

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of Asheville Lyric Opera

Official Media Partners of UNC Opera

Opera Lively is the Official Media Partner of UNC Opera
Dept. of Music, UNC-Chapel Hill College of Arts and Sciences