Sunday Classics: Let's hear how Samson rallies his people (The opening scene of Saint-Saëns' "Samson et Dalila," part 2)
The opening of Samson at the Met -- James Levine conducting, September 1998
We began the preview to Part 1 of our look at the opening scene of Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila with some appreciation of the haunting orchestral opening, and by the time we finished with the main post ("Introducing Saint-Saëns' Samson, the second-angriest man in opera") we'd heard a pile-up of performances of Samson's arresting first solo, "Arrêtetz. ô mes frères," and the second, "L'as-tu donc oublié." I warned at the time that when we resumed, we wouldn't get any further into the scene. Then in last night's preview, ""How we get to Samson's heroic first utterance," we began plugging the gaps, in preparation for today's more systematic listen to just this much of the scene.
Today's plan isn't fancy. The CD issue of the 1962 EMI recording of Samson, with Jon Vickers and Rita Gorr, conducted by Georges Prêtre, tracks the opening scene, in which Samson sets about rallying his troops, such as they are, into five parts, and we're going to listen to them separately, and along the way listen to additional performances of some bits of it. Finally we'll hear two quite different but complementary performances of our entire play unit.
TO HEAR SAMSON RALLY THE HEBREWS FROM DESPAIR
TO A READINESS TO SPRING INTO ACTION, CLICK HERE