Samson et Dalila, Op. 47: Danse bacchanale
b. Paris, France / October 9, 1835; d. Algiers, Algeria / December 16, 1921
Samson and Delilah, which premièred in 1877, is the only one of Saint-Saëns’ dozen operas to find lasting success. Author Ferdinand Lemaire drew the outline of the libretto from the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible. The action takes place in and around the city of Gaza. The mighty Samson is a leader among the Hebrews, whose land is occupied by the Philistines. The Philistines use the wiles of the beautiful, treacherous woman Delilah to discover the secret of Samson’s great physical strength. He succumbs to her false charms and she renders him powerless by cutting off his hair. The third and final act takes place in the temple of Dagon, god of the Philistines. As Samson sits pathetically in chains, Dagon’s followers perform this exotic, increasingly frenetic Bacchanale.
Program Notes by Don Anderson © 2018