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Subject: Re: Has "Samson et Dalila" gone the way of "Mignon"
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 12 Oct 2016 10:10:06 -0700
Content-Type:text/plain
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Les, you need to read more carefully :-)  Tom said he heard von Stade and Hadley in excerpts from “Mignon” not “Samson.”

WRT “Samson et Delilah” I think it takes the right elements to light it up.  It was never on my favorites list but I saw a performance back in 2001 in San Francisco (Pamela Rosenberg’s first season, but planned and cast by Monsouri) that completely caught me up.  Olga Borodina in her absolute prime (the purity and opulence of her voice in “Printemps qui commence” stunned me right from the get-go), beautiful and heroic singing by the much missed Sergei Larin and really excellent performance of the other parts:  Timothy Noble as the high priest and then up-and-coming bass Rene Pape as the Old Hebrew.  The magic was ignited by the conducting of Emmanuel Joel.  Very traditional, old fashioned production but it all worked and convinced.  I’ll never forget the sheer fullness and power of Borodina’s B-flat as she cried out “Lache” and when Samson pulled down the pillars at the end, rather than looking terrified she looked aroused.

Neither Borodina nor Larin were svelte (this was before he was ravaged by liver cancer) but neither were they too far the other direction.  She was voluptuous, he was darkly handsome and muscular and they were both, well, sexeh!  But the key thing is that they were 120% into it and completely convincing.

A few years later, early in the Gockley regime, they did a revival but this time with Borodina just enough plumper and her singing this time just enough labored that the allure wasn’t quite there.  She was also working with the Samson of Clifton Forbis, not nearly as attractive to ear or eye as Larin.  I was bored and left after the second act.

Max Paley 

> On Oct 12, 2016, at 9:57 AM, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> I may be wrong (as I frequently am), but I can't imagine that Von Stade or Hadley had the ideal weight of voice for Samson or Dalila. I can certainly see Ramey in his baritone role, however. I think you need a very strong and dramatic tenor (which Jerry Hadley was not) as well as a weighty contralto or very heavy low mezzo). I think that Hadley and Von Stade would have been "too lyrical" for such heavy roles. Maybe I'm wrong. 
> Verrett was ideal, as was Domingo and Vickers. Grace Bumbry also did Dalila beautifully. Saw her and Vickers do it here in Chicago. It was dynamite. 
> 
> 
> ----- Original Message -----
> 
> From: "tom ponti" <[log in to unmask]> 
> To: "OPERA-L" <[log in to unmask]> 
> Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 11:26:30 AM 
> Subject: Re: Has "Samson et Dalila" gone the way of "Mignon" 
> 
> I love S&D too. Visually, I prefer the SF DVD with Verrett and Domingo because Placido is much more appealing physically than Vickers. Vocally, both men are outstanding. Also, the fact that Domingo looks younger than Verrett, makes their relationship more plausible. I also think that Dalila's arias and duets are among the greatest for the mezzo soprano voice in all of opera. Years ago on TV there was a Von Stade special where she, Ramey and Hadley performed excerpts of Mignon, which were very enjoyable. 
> 
> 
> ________________________________ 
> From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> 
> Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 12:01 PM 
> To: [log in to unmask] 
> Subject: Re: [OPERA-L] Has "Samson et Dalila" gone the way of "Mignon" 
> 
> I guess I'm in a minority who really like the opera. 
> 
> The Verrett/Vickers video is wonderful and is a very 
> convincing testimonial to the effectiveness of the opera, 
> both musically and dramatically. 
> 
> Rita Gorr was magnificent at the Met in the early sixties 
> and her great duet with Gabriel Bacquier the evening of 
> the new production is among my greatest operatic 
> memories. Vickers and McCracken were superb in the early 
> years of that production, as was Mignon Dunn, a singer of 
> great ability, often overlooked and underappreciated. Her 
> very top range was not a thing if beauty or ease, but Dalila 
> was mearly a perfect fit. 
> 
> If the opera has patches of "filler", it also has long stretches 
> of greatness, including three of the most beautiful arias ever 
> written for the lower female voice, and lots of wonderful 
> orchestral effects. 
> 
> The Gorr/Vickers/Blanc/Pretre EMI recording has given me 
> a lotta pleasure over a lotta years! 
> 
> Bob 
> 
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