A big MGM-musical approach to the classic tale.
From the quietest of sounds to the most explosive, we were with the ensemble every step of the way. In the final act, the chorus’ display was just as powerful, the contrasts between pious Hebrews and orgiastic Philistines was quite clear in the sudden shift in sound; this final act featured the chorus vibrant and forceful, each note crackling with rich and bright sound.
The source of this popular opera is a single chapter in the biblical Book of Judges, and the brevity of the tale did nothing to prevent it from becoming one of the world’s great stories of love (or at least passion) — as well as the archetypal depiction of a man betrayed by an immoral woman. Saint-Saëns’s opera, along with other artistic renderings across multiple genres, has had an important role in the popularization of this tale. Despite tepid success early on, Samson et Dalila eventually conquered the operatic world and has proven itself a magnificent evening of theatre.
The opera, like the biblical tale, takes place in the city of Gaza, a capital of ancient Philistia, and in the Valley of Sorek, in the foothill country toward Jerusalem. The time is around 1150 BCE.
The score of this opera teems over with colour and dramatic aptitude and is a worthy compendium of Saint-Saëns’s diversified genius. Portions of the opera, including Dalila’s seduction aria Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix and the extraordinary ballet sequence in the final scene — the Bacchanale — are known well beyond the opera house. Throughout the work, the score brilliantly animates all the powerful and diverse colours in the iconic story, from the lurid to the exotic, the crass, the sensual, and even the sublimely spiritual.
When mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča and tenor Roberto Alagna joined forces for a new production of Carmen at the Met, the results were electrifying. Now this star duo reunites for another sensual French opera when they open the season in the title roles of Saint-Saëns’s biblical epic Samson et Dalila. Darko Tresnjak, who won a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical in 2014 for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, makes his Met debut directing a vivid, seductive staging, featuring a monumental setting for the last-act Temple of Dagon, where the hero crushes his Philistine enemies. Sir Mark Elder conducts the first new Met production of the work in 20 years.
USA 2018, 216 min, rated PG (violence & sexual references)
(includes two 40 min intermissions)
Live performance opera
Conductor: Mark Elder
Vocal cast: Elīna Garanča, Roberto Alagna, Laurent Naouri, Elchin Azizov & Tomasz Konieczny
The Metropolitan Opera changed the face of theatergoing nearly a decade ago with high-definition simulcasts in movie theaters using a technology associated more with rock concerts and boxing matches than opera. We are very lucky at Arthur’s to be able to offer this sensational bit of culture, art and entertainment to you.