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It was Saint-Saëns' friendship with Franz Liszt (1811-1886) that resulted in the world première of Samson et Dalila. It was first performed on 2 December 1877, at the Grand Ducal Theater in the German city of Weimar where Liszt was kapellmeister. On 4 January 1893, it was staged in New Orleans and on 26 April 1909, at London's Covent Garden.

Denyce Graves (Delilah) and Clifton Forbis (Samson). Photo © 2007 Ken Howard
Denyce Graves (Delilah) and Clifton Forbis (Samson). Photo © 2007 Ken Howard

On 20 February 2007, San Diego Opera presented Samson et Dalila in a luxurious production by Lotfi Mansouri at the Civic Theater. Since the first act was originally written in an oratorio style, it is rather static but skillful stage direction kept the story line flowing throughout the evening. Douglas Schmidt's solid looking scenery and Thomas Munn's effective lighting recreated the ancient times and places masterfully, while Carrie Robbins' well fitted, colorful and seductive costumes added visual interest to each scene.

Denyce Graves (Delilah) and Clifton Forbis (Samson). Photo © 2007 Ken Howard
Denyce Graves (Delilah) and Clifton Forbis (Samson). Photo © 2007 Ken Howard

 

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Copyright © 26 March 2007 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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