I realized that he was gifted and had in fact real talent. I asked him to work with me on an oratorio on a biblical subject. For some reason I began the music with act 2, and I played it at home to a select audience who could make nothing of it at all. From the very beginning, the work was conceived as a grand duet between Samson and Dalila set off against the approaching tempest. The alarm on the part of the public caused him to abandon working further on the opera for the next two years. He wrote a large amount of act 1 and completed it during a trip to Algiers in
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Late in life, he traveled to all corners of the world. In both the opera and the Bible , Samson is a leader of the Israelites, who are in the midst of a revolt against their malevolent rulers, the Philistines. The Philistines want to bring him down, so they send one of their own, a woman named Delila, to seduce him and discover the source of his extreme physical strength.
It turns out that secret is his long hair, which binds him in a vow to God. But Samson does not let that secret slip easily: he misleads Delila several times before finally revealing the true secret. Yet when that is done, Delila shaves his hair while he sleeps, allowing the Philistines to capture and blind him. After years of forced labor at their hands, Samson winds up in the temple of Dagon , one of the Philistine deities, in Gaza. There, he prays to God to restore his strength, and he pulls down the central columns of the temple, killing himself and all of the Philistines inside.
Each version of the story has its nuances e. It is a depraved dance performed by the priests of Dagon. While that does heighten the exoticness of the piece, it is not authentic to any world musical tradition. Here it is in the actual opera, in sort of a Tron meets kabuki staging: And a more conventional though admittedly harder to see staging from the Paris Opera in For something a little different, Gustavo Dudamel leads the Berlin Philharmonic in Bacchanale.
Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah
Samson and Delilah
Bacchanale by Camille Saint-Saens