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Samson and Delilah

A filmed live performance from the San Francisco Opera

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For years this opera was an underrated treat, performed all too rarely. Thankfully in more recent times it has been seen as an ideal vehicle for star mezzo's- this one, particularly the late, great, Shirley Verrett who featured in several notable productions, three of which were filmed...and as such, it has been played more often.

Recently is has been used as a vehicle for the Russian star Olga Borodina- who has also recorded it with Placido Domingo - the same Samson on this recording. The sound on those recordings is wonderful- given the recent advances in technology - but the stagecraft of the artists is nowhere near as compelling as this version I am recommending.

Shirley Verrett was a wonderful Delilah- not of the large round warm sound type that so often dominate this role- but a leaner, more agile sound that is in every sense as immediate and expressive- a perfect tool for a lady who was known to be the compelling actress that she was. (Some called her "the black Callas").

Of them all, this version is the stand out one -with Placido Domingo giving an extraordinary reading of the role of Samson. His performance particularly towards the end of the opera is amazingly moving- even moreso than the excellent Jon Vickers who appears on another version with Ms Verrett.

This production under the baton of James Rudel at the San Francisco Opera is as traditional as you can get- chocolate box, dramatically coloured sets and more-some! Clearly it revels in the overt campery of pre Babylonian times - and why not? It all makes for a feast of colour with clearly no expense spared- to culminate in a superbly orchestrated big time collapse at the end.

Put simply, this DVD is a treat!

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