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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I was going to watch the Samson et Dalila's opera , I imagined
that I would see the full history version and with a beautiful singer
in the role of Dalila.
I was very disappointed of seeing that several interesting passages of the real history were cut down, and the singer they choose to play Dalila was simply TOO Ugly!
For the foreign and seductive woman, that enchants Samson with her beauty and sensuality, the chosen singer is going to totally disappoint you.
But the opera is not all that bad:
The stage has interesting scenarios and I like Plácido Domingo, that stays in the role of Samson.
My vote is 6.
I love opera, and while this production was good, it didn't ignite my fire as much as it could have done. The opera I do like a lot, the story and characters are very memorable, but it is the music that I love most of all, especially Samson's big aria, Dalila's Mon Coeur Ta S'oeuvre Voix, the Bacchanel and the bring down the temple chorus. I will say what I liked about the production. The orchestra sizzle and the conducting from James Levine is superb. The chorus and choreography are beautifully balanced and intricate. Placido Domingo is in superb voice and is very committed as an actor, and Olga Borodina is a sumptuously sung and sexy Dalila. Mon Coeur Ta S'oeuvre Voix is beautifully understated and the bring down the temple chorus is edge-of-your-seat stuff. What I didn't like so much, is that the costumes and sets are rather unappealing on picture, but at least the video directing was really quite good. Sergei Leiferkus is a great singer and is effective as an actor(he was very chilling as Iago in the 1992 production of Otello), and while he is imposing and sings majestically, you can tell that French pronunciation is not his forte. And while Domingo and Borodina sing and act very well, their chemistry doesn't quite ignite as well as it should, some of their scenes together are a little detached in tone compared to other things I have seen these two do. Overall, disappointing but definitely worth a look. 7/10 Bethany Cox
This production starts with a chorus of downtrodden Israelites, clearly
owing a lot to Verdi's Nabucco. The singers clutch various spare parts,
hub-caps, exhaust systems as they sing in front of a giant radiator. I
scanned the credits but I could find no suggestion that the production
is sponsored by an automobile company. Anyway the La Scala chorus is so
good that I soon forgot the motoring theme and settled back to enjoy
Plácido Domingo is in impressive form as a, rather elderly Samson. He plays him as a Jewish prophet with a long beard and flowing robes. There is no hint of the strongman that some of us may remember from the 1949 Cecil B Demille film starring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr. Still, this opera is more about Dalila than Samson and here the sensuous Olga Borodina can certainly give Hedy Lamarr a run for her money in the glamour stakes. Saint-Säens wrote beautifully for the mezzo voice and La Borodina gives a thrilling account in the very low tessitura of this role. She is at her best singing very softly such as during the famous Mon Coeur S'Ouvre à Ta Voix. As she sings this aria she unrolls a scarlet sheet across the stage and Domingo crawls along it towards her howling "Dalila, je t'aime" giving the impression that his tongue is hanging out like a lustful hound-dog.
Ferdinand Lemaire's intelligent libretto does not seem to mention the usual hair-cutting. Samson's downfall is simply his lust for Dalila. The blinded Samson is taken to the Philistines' temple of Dagon where there is the famous bacchanal, enthusiastically performed with much pelvic thrusting by the La Scala dancers. Samson's destruction of the temple will again disappoint Victor Mature fans as it is more metaphorical than literal.
This is another of the spectacular productions that La Scala staged during its temporary exile at the Arcimboldi Theatre. Olga Borodina's thrilling performance makes the trip to Milan's suburbs well worthwhile.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you are expecting to see the story of Samson et Dalila set in
Biblical times then beware! This is 'producers' opera I'm afraid.
Obviously having no idea of how to set the story, they choose to remove
it completely from its Biblical context and set in in some indefinable,
futuristic setting, complete with chorus carrying around various bits
of metal and car doors for no apparent reason.
I could go on and on about the irrelevance of the sets and costumes - but I won't. I need only say that at the climax of the opera, Samson does not bring down the temple - there is no temple. Enough said I think.
Luckily the singers are first class. Even at this stage in his career, Placido Domingo producers ringing tone and committed acting, though he must have wondered what world he had wandered into. He is well matched by Olga Borodina, with sumptuous, sexy tone and plenty of disdain, as the sexy Dalila.
My advice - ignore the sets and just listen to the glorious music.
9 out of 10 for singing/music and 1 out of 10 for production.
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