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Subject: Re: Dallas Samson and Dalila
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Mon, 23 Oct 2017 12:01:48 -0400

text/plain (43 lines)

Those who find my taste pedestrian are sure to feel even more superior upon my admission 
that I adore Saint Saens’ opera.  Perhaps a bit of childhood sentimentality factors in, but I 
have always found it – as the story inspiring it – to be exciting drama. 

More sophisticated opera lovers dismiss Samson with charges of “it’s an oratorio – even the 
composer called it that,” which is not true.  The composer’s own correspondence mentions 
his intent to write a Samson oratorio, but the librettist convinced him to create an opera, 
and that was what they did.  Only in England was it, because of a ban on operas based on 
Bible stories, forced to be presented in concert form.  

The premiere in Weimar was a huge success, critically and popularly, and while it took 
several more seasons before appearing in France, once it did, Samson and his gal pal began 
appearing at major houses all over the world to general enthusiasm from all.  

I’ve always been taken by Samson’s structure, particularly its opening sequence which, to 
me, feels similar to a great musical – brief orchestral introduction seamlessly seguing into a 
chorus which leads into the introduction of the hero, then the enemies ending in a sort of 
“call to arms” if you will.  This seldom fails to thrill me and nicely sets up the rest of the 
opera which, for me is chock full of gorgeous music.  While the Bacchanal may not be the 
most inspired or sophisticated (?) music, it does do its job provocatively, and brings down 
the house (!)which prompts me to ask, “what the hell is wrong with that?”  

The final scene, as cornball as it may sound, gives the chorus another opportunity to have a 
lot of fun with all that Dagon business before letting the tenor cut loose and ring out on a 
favorite note (Bb).  

I don’t feel guilty in the least loving this opera and there are reasons companies still 
produce it:  singers still enjoy singing it and enough audiences get a thrill from it!  


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