BRAVA! - BRAVO! - BUT NO BRAVI!
slofty | 02/25/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This production (one of the only - if not the only available on VHS at the present) would warrant five stars considering Domingo and Verrett's performances alone. However, there are times in this performance when the SF Opera Chorus' performance is sloppy....I think mostly due to Maestro Rudel's EXTREMELY fast tempi (particularly in Act 1) which defy musical common sense and at times actually destroy the beauty of Saint Saens' gorgeous choral writing. One can only wonder - since this production was filmed for "Great Performances" in 1981 - if the maestro was under pressure from the PBS network to bring the length of the show in at under 120 minutes. There are also several short "cuts" in the chorus parts to make Act 3 shorter...which is disturbing if you know the show by heart.The tempi "settle down" in Act 2 allowing Shirley Verrett to shine. BRAVA! Domingo is powerful throughout and is especially Brilliant in the beginning of Act 3 - the scene at the millstone. Add this video to your collection for this 8 minutes sequence alone! BRAVO! I would love to see this released in a letterbox "widescreen" version so you could see more of the beautiful sets, costumes and the stunning SIZE of this show....rather than the constant camera framing of the principals. Still, the sound is good quality and picture is clear in this presentation.1981 seems like a long time ago. While the performances by the principals is fantastic, other artistic considerations leave something to be desired from this production. San Fransisco Opera is such a fantastic opera house today with such a fine chorus that I can't help but feel that a new production of one of my favorite operas -available on VHS/DVD - is overdue."
Excellent cast & production
operamaryc | DIAMOND BAR, CA United States | 05/07/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've loved this opera for many years and purchased this on VHS and laser disc. I agree with the other reviewer as to the cast being superb but the chorus and conducting under par and perhaps because it was broadcast on PBS. Those were the days when you could see an opera on PBS! Domingo and Verrett are magnificent and since there aren't alot of productions to choose from, this is certainly worth the price to add to your collection."
Opera As It Should Be
Mark E. Herriott | North Bend, WA | 06/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had seen this production years ago on PBS and its every bit as fantastic as I remember it. Placido Domingo was still at his vocal best here, which was not the case with his farewell performance in Samson et Dalila with the Metropolitan Opera. Some people see opera purely in terms of the singers. I see opera as a total package, singers, costumes and sets. I feel cheated when I pay good money and get stylized sets..or no sets at all. This production has all of the aforementioned characteristics. I only wished the film crew had pulled back a little further during many of the scenes so one could really enjoy the full effect of the production. If you go for opulent sets and costumes, check out the Metropolitan Opera production of Turandot with Domingo and Marton. I never really cared for that opera until I saw the Met's production and now I love it."
A Definitive Samson et Dalila
Indiana Opera Buff | Fort Wayne, IN United States | 10/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have read with disbelief some of the negative reviews of this opera. I can tell you with honesty that this is one of my favorite videos. Domingo sings fabulously well, and Verrett sings, and looks, like a goddess. (Actually, Domingo looks pretty good, too.) And the baritone, Wolfgang Brendel, has a strong, ringing baritone that can't be beat! I found the chorus to be excellent, and the scenery and costumes wonderful, especially for a house of the size of the San Francisco Opera. Even the subtitles are easy to read. And, of course, the music is very beautiful. This is as close to perfection as you are ever going to find."