Samson and Delilah - Live at the Met
In Act II of Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilah, Delilah seduces not only Samson with her aria "Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix” (or “my heart at the sound of your voice”) but everyone who hears that melody. While Delilah and Samson join in a duet, opera goers might be tempted to start humming along.
In the Met’s production, Elina Garanca plays Delilah, the willful wily woman motived by hatred for the Israelites and their god. Even with her vowing to bring down Samson, there is lurking in her performance a hint of possibility that she might really have affection for him. In another time and place, could they have had a chance to be a happy couple.
Robert Alagna is powerful, with a voice that befits his role as the strongman Samson. His physical strength alone will not resolve the strong conflicts within him to serve his god and people while being in love with this woman (who he should really know is his enemy).
While opposites attract—and Delilah covered in jewelry just as Samson wears simple covering—in this case, the opposites of her hatred and his love will destroy everything.
Laurent Naouri co-stars as the High Priest, with Elchin Azizov as the Philistine King Abimélech and Dmitry Belosselskiy as the Old Hebrew — all deliver star performances.
The Met Chorus sometimes is the voice of the woeful Israelites and sometimes the powerful Philistines. These give hint that Saint-Saëns might have originally thought of this work as an oratorio.
The Bacchanale is one of the most exotic orchestral pieces ever, as music for an erotic frenzy of a ballet that leads to the extravaganza of an ending.
Samson —a man broken in heart by Delilah’s deceitful love, blind, and enslaved will bring down the powerful structure that overwhelms the stage in the final act. The Philistines Temple will go up in smoke like the dreamsof Samson and Delilah’s ill fated love.
These are just the facts. There is nothing like the real thing, which is seeing the opera itself.
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