Stages by Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp in 2009, Saint-Saëns' opera Samson et Dalila – a story of doomed love set against the backdrop of cultural conflict between Hebrews and Philistines – is re-located in this production to the contemporary Middle East. The two directors, Israeli Omri Nizar Zuabi, explore the tensions between different nations and religions, and the complex relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed. "In our approach to this opera we tried to move away from the quasi-biblical interpretation, and to place the story in today's world to explain its political aspects better," say the two directors. "Acts of terror by a state will lead to acts of terror against a state, which in turn will lead to more terror by the state and this completes the vicious circle."
Performed by the Symphony Orchestra and Choir of Vlaamse Opera Antwerp/Ghent under the baton of Czech conductor Tomáš Netopil, Samson is sung by the young German tenor Torsten Kerl and Dalila by the Russian mezzo-soprano Marianna Tarasova. The kaleidoscopic colours of the music are brought out with sensitivity and lyricism by the orchestra and singers, unfolding the dramatic story in all its tragic beauty.
At the very beginning, Samson et Dalila was supposed to be an oratorio, written after the bible. It was not until his ideas were well developed that he was persuaded instead to turn the oratorio into an opera. In 1877, Franz Liszt arranged for the world premiere to be staged at Weimar, Germany. The opera was not performed in France until 1890 (in Rouen), and it finally reached the Paris Opera in 1892 only. There, it was played over five hundred times during the following thirty years.
Michel Plasson, Benoît Jacquot – Jonas Kaufmann (Werther), Sophie Koch (Charlotte)
La Fura dels Baus, Sylvain Cambreling – Vesselina Kasarova (Marguerite), Paul Groves (Faust), Willard White (Méphistophélès)
Philippe Jordan, Robert Wilson – Stéphane Degout (Pelléas), Elena Tsallagova (Mélisande), Anne Sofie von Otter (Geneviève), Vincent le Texier (Golaud)
2003 St. Petersburg Gala, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the city
Verbier Festival 2012