Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Henry Purcell, Royal Welcome Songs for King Charles II Vol. III: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers

The Sixteen continues its exploration of Henry Purcell’s Welcome Songs for Charles II. As with Robert King’s pioneering Purcell series begun over thirty years ago for Hyperion, Harry Christophers is recording two Welcome Songs per disc.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

Anima Rara: Ermonela Jaho

In February this year, Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho made a highly lauded debut recital at Wigmore Hall - a concert which both celebrated Opera Rara’s 50th anniversary and honoured the career of the Italian soprano Rosina Storchio (1872-1945), the star of verismo who created the title roles in Leoncavallo’s La bohème and Zazà, Mascagni’s Lodoletta and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

Requiem pour les temps futurs: An AI requiem for a post-modern society

Collapsology. Or, perhaps we should use the French word ‘Collapsologie’ because this is a transdisciplinary idea pretty much advocated by a series of French theorists - and apparently, mostly French theorists. It in essence focuses on the imminent collapse of modern society and all its layers - a series of escalating crises on a global scale: environmental, economic, geopolitical, governmental; the list is extensive.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Ádám Fischer’s 1991 MahlerFest Kassel ‘Resurrection’ issued for the first time

Amongst an avalanche of new Mahler recordings appearing at the moment (Das Lied von der Erde seems to be the most favoured, with three) this 1991 Mahler Second from the 2nd Kassel MahlerFest is one of the more interesting releases.

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Max Lorenz: Tristan und Isolde, Hamburg 1949

If there is one myth, it seems believed by some people today, that probably needs shattering it is that post-war recordings or performances of Wagner operas were always of exceptional quality. This 1949 Hamburg Tristan und Isolde is one of those recordings - though quite who is to blame for its many problems takes quite some unearthing.

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Above: Nadia Krasteva is Delilah and Clifton Forbis as Samson  [Photo by J. Katarzyna Woronowicz. courtesy of San Diego Opera]
02 Mar 2013

Samson and Delilah, San Diego Opera

Samson and Delilah is the only opera by Camille Saint-Saens that is still regularly performed. He had written two previous operas and would write several more, along with a long list of instrumental pieces including The Carnival of the Animals.

Samson and Delilah, San Diego Opera

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Nadia Krasteva is Delilah and Clifton Forbis as Samson [Photo by J. Katarzyna Woronowicz. courtesy of San Diego Opera]

 

In the 1860s the composer was aware of a renewed interest in choral music, so he planned an oratorio on the story of Samson that is found in Chapter sixteen of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. He spoke to the husband of one of his wife's cousins, Ferdinand Lemaire, about writing a libretto for it and the writer said the story would make a good opera. They began working on it as an opera, but other concerns interrupted them.

Fellow composer Franz Liszt, who was interested in producing new works by talented composers, persuaded Saint-Saëns to finish Samson and Delilah, saying that he would produce the completed work at the grand-ducal opera house in Weimar.

The composer tailored the role of Delilah for Pauline Viardot (1821–1910), but by the time the work was finished and could be staged, the singer was too old to perform it. She did, however, organize a private performance of the second act at a friend's home with the composer at the piano. A great admirer of the work, she hoped that this private performance would encourage the director of the Paris Opéra to mount a full production. Although Saint-Saëns completed the score in 1876, no opera houses in France displayed any desire to stage Samson and Delilah.

It was Liszt's support that led to the work being premiered in a German translation on December 2, 1877, in Weimar, where it was a resounding success. But there were many intervening years before it started to become popular in other cities. Its Paris premiere at the Éden-Théâtre did not take place until October 31, 1890, but audiences did give it a warm reception. Over the next two years, performances were staged in Bordeaux, Geneva, Toulouse, Nantes, Dijon, and Montpellier. When the Paris Opéra finally presented the opera on November 23, 1892, audience members and critics alike praised it.

On February 19, 2013, San Diego Opera presented Samson and Delilah in a traditional production directed by Leslie Koenig. The solid looking, effective scenery was designed by Douglas Schmidt and the soft colored costumes were originated by Carrie Robbins. All were constructed at San Francisco Opera. Koenig’s direction told the story in a straightforward manner and made no attempt to update or change the setting from the borders of Judah, Dan, and Philistia in the late twelfth or early eleventh century BCE.

Clifton Forbis was a dramatic Samson who showed us the wages of his character’s sins. Vocally, he started off slowly, but it is a long role and his pacing was good after the first scene. His best singing was heard during the poignant third act aria, ‘Vois ma misère, helas’. Tall and slim Nadia Krasteva was a sensual, seductive Delilah who fully captured her man when she sang ‘Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix’ (My Heart Opens at your Voice). Her voice had a purple velvet sound and the low notes of her chest voice were exquisite. As the High Priest of Dagon, Anooshah Golesorki commanded the stage as he sang with a stentorian voice. His second act duet with Krasteva was quite memorable.

Gregory Reinhart was a compelling Old Hebrew and Mikhail Svetlov a fiery Abimilech. Doug Jones, Scott Sikon, and Greg Fedderly gave interesting portrayals as Philistines. Since the composer originally thought to write this work as an oratorio, the chorus is very important. Under the direction of Charles F. Prestinari, the San Diego Opera Chorus sang Saint-Saens’ rousing music with great gusto. Conductor Karen Keltner is an expert on both French language and French music, so she coached the singers’ diction in addition to leading the orchestra in this idiomatic performance. She brought out Saint-Saens’ love for the exotic and her interpretation was particularly impressive in the ‘Bacchanal’. Her tempi were well thought out and the playing was rich and translucent. Kenneth von Heidecke’s choreography was fun to watch and the enticing music made the entire audience want to join the dance.

Maria Nockin


Cast and Production Information

Clifton Forbis, Samson; Nadia Krasteva, Delilah; Mikhail Svetlov, Abimelech; Anoosha Golesorki, High Priest of Dagon; Scott Sikon and Doug Jones, Philistines; Greg Fedderly, Philistine Messenger; Gregory Reinhart, Old Hebrew; Karen Keltner, conductor; Leslie Koenig, director; Kenneth von Heidecke, choreographer; Charles F. Prestinari, chorus master; Douglas Schmidt, scenery; Carrie Robbins, costumes; Gary Marder, lighting design. San Diego Opera, Civic Theater, Tuesday, February 19, 2013.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):