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Subject: Re: Dallas Samson and Dalila
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Sun, 22 Oct 2017 14:26:21 -0400

text/plain (46 lines)

Gordon Young wrote:

"With last nights performance [of Samson et Dalila] this opera may go into my pile (it’s a 
small pile) of never again operas. I am curious to know what others think of Saint-Saens 
“masterpiece” (?)."

Not one of my favorites, either.  But with great singers - which you did not have, obviously - 
and a fine conductor who does more than beat time, and a good staging, it can make an 
effect.  If the tenor is not first rate, you might as well not go because it will be a waste of 

Dallas Civic Opera did S&D for the first time in 1964, with Del Monaco and Gorr.  There were 
problems at the final dress rehearsal.  Ronald Davis, in his book on the DCO, writes:  
"Shortly after arriving in Dallas, Del Monaco went out to Nieman-Marcus and bought a black 
cowboy suit - boots, hat, everything.  Rather than appearing in costume at the second dress 
rehearsal, he wore his cowboy outfit.  When the tenor talked onstage, during Gorr's big aria, 
the diva stopped singing, walked to the front of the stage, and said 'Maestro, why do I have 
to put up with that?'  The handful of people sitting in the audience applauded, causing Del 
Monaco to walk off the stage and refuse to come back.  Kelly went backstage to try to 
reason with Del Monaco, but it took a promise to redo the tenor's dressing room before he 
was appeased."  There is a famous tape of Gorr's angry outburst and of people applauding.  

In 1971 DCO mounted the opera with Vickers and Joy Davidson (a last minute substitute for 
the scheduled singer, Viorica Cortez, who lost her voice during rehearsals), a really fine 
performance of which there is a recording.

The real problem is the first act, which to me is static and interminable.  You also need a 
convincing and spectacular temple collapse at the end.  It also helps if the famous 
Bacchanale (which I love) is not choreographed like a risible hoochy-kootchy number.

The opera is not really first-rate music.  Meyerbeer at his best is much better.


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