Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Saint-Saens - Samson et Dalila / Jon Vickers Shirley Verrett John Tomlinson Maldwyn Davies Matthew Best Colin Davis Covent Garden Opera|
Actors: Jon Vickers, Matthew Best, Maldwyn Davies, Jonathan Summers, John Dobson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
Opera in three acts at The Royal Opera Covent Garden. Music by Camille Saint-SaŽns, Libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire. Producer: Elijah Moshinsky, Designer: Sidney Nolan, Directed For Video By John Vernon. Samson: Jon Vickers... more »
The best version thus far...
J. M. Parr | Ottawa,Canada | 01/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here is a wonderful performance of Samson. It was filmed in London not more than a year after the rival dvd from Sanfransisco. The production by Elijah Moshinsky is marvelous in it's subtle details which bring the story to life. The sets & costumes by Sir Sidney Nolan are a beautiful fusion of African and Far Eastern art notwithstanding some bizzarely expressionistic front curtains before each act. Don' be put off by them. The cast is uniformly excellent. Verrett, one of the most dramatically beautiful women to ever walk the stage is a supreme Delilah. Her singing is ravishing and she infuses the character with so many subtle touches that show she has really thought out the role. She must have worked very well with the director because it is all the small touches that bring her performance to life. For example, I love the way she conveys a woman voicing her thoughts out loud and discovering her feelings at the same time during the Act 2 duet with the High Priest. Verrett is also in the SanFransico dvd but she is that much more engaged with her role in this performance. She is also more flatterinlgy costumed in this version. Vickers is somewhat les of an actor than Verrett but Samson was one of his finest roles and his sheer force of nature tone and personality are more suited to the role of Samson than the otherwise wonderful Domingo in both other versions on dvd. Jonathan Summers is, I think, the more convincing of the High Priest's than either Wolfgang Brendl or Sergei Leiferkus although to be fair Leiferkus makes the High Preist seem more spooky. Summers' singing is marvellously firm in what is one of those baritone shouting roles like Don Pizzaro in Fidelio. Gwynne Howell is also the better of the singers portraying the Old Hebrew. He looks more convincing as an old man and he has the most velvety sounding voice of the three competing singers. My only reservation about this performance is the staging and setting for the Final scene. The Bacchanale is staged quite wonderfully as an outdoor fertility ritual involving blood sacrifice. Very well done and very convincing. In the rival SanFransisco version the ballet is staged as a wonderful temple orgy in a truly magnificent, steamy looking, pagan temple. The taunting of Samson in the temple is truly scary in it's brutality in the London version but it is negated by the unconvincing destruction of the temple by Samson. It mostly doesn't work because of the outdoor setting that the director & designer decided on so that when the collumns collapse It is unlikely that anyone would get hurt. In the rival Sanfransisco version we are treated to the most gloriously cinematic staging of the destruction of the temple. It still sends shivers down my spine 20 odd years later. That alone is worth the price of that dvd. The Covent Garden Orchestra and Chorus respond excellently to Davis's masterly acount of the score somewhat surpassing the SanFransisco group under Rudel. The picture and sound of this dvd are as good as one could expect from a television recording that is over 25 years old. All in all, if you can afford only one dvd of Samson this really is the one to have."
Vickers' godlike presence
Maurice D'Archonnoir | Istanbul | 03/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've never thought that I could witness such a powerful and commanding performance till the day I've watched this dvd. I must admit that I've ordered this dvd for Verrett because I wasn't expecting Vickers to sound as powerful as in his thrilling 1963 samson recording with rita gorr on emi. but I was so wrong!
He's singing here with a terrifying power and in a complete trance that makes you think that he's truly a semi-god like samson. Even Madame Verrett who in san francisco production had dominated the stage in every scene she was in, is a bit shadowed by Vickers' divine aura. And I didn't like her short hair either. She was much more vibrant, agresive, glamorous in san francisco and so was the production. the rest of the covent garden cast isn't very strong. especially Summers' voice compared to brendel at san fran. is quite weak.
the recent met production (from dg) has only one advantage, better sound and picture quality. but these two other versions are fairly well presented as well.
in short, if you like to watch a legendary samson accompanied by a legendary dalila and a great orchestra (davis surpasses levine and rudel)
buy this one. If you want a glamourous hollywood like production dominated by Verrett's unsurpassed Dalila and a great but not legendary samson (domingo) with superb cast and choir and orchestra buy the san fran. version."
Ms. Verret is awe-inspiring!
Teacup | Assam, India | 03/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This opera ought to be called Dalila et Samson. In any production that I have seen, it is Dalila who captures eye, ear and imagination. Ms. Verrett is a phenomenon, she has beauty (though she has put on a little weight here), she can act, she can sing (and how!)and her intelligence shines through any role she has portrayed. She is a velvet-voiced Dalila, smooth and seductive. No wonder Samson succumbs to her charms despite the old Hebrew's misogynistic and xenophobic warnings. Ms Verrett's acting, excellent throughout, reaches a peak at the penultimate moments of the opera, just before the fall of the pillars.
I have to agree with the previous reviewer that the actual demolition of the temple was a little lacking. Those falling pillars would not cause much damamge. Otherwise the scene is magnificent. I do not want to spoil it for those seeing the opera for the first time, but there were a few moments when I had to look away, so brutual and realistic was the staging.
One sour political note. The scene opens in Gaza, where the Israelis groan under the heavy hand of the Philistines. In today's (March 2007) context, it is heavily and unpleasantly ironic. I hope that some day soon, both sides will settle to fair and lasting peace and that opera lovers on both sides will be able to view this opera with detachment and equanitmity and enjoy itwithout political passions interefering with their appreciation of the music."
Shirley Verrett Was Impressive
Xavier | 06/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Always pleased with Shirley Verrett; the part belongs to her and she is amazing in it. The chorus was simply amazing as well."