|Our Samson and Delilah, photo @ Ken Howard|
Nefretiri: You will be king of Egypt, and I will be your footstool!Maybe it was for that reason that the Met's new production of Samson et Dalila was so enjoyable. This despite the fact that we had an ailing Samson (Roberto Alagna) who sang with a curtain announcement that he had a cold and barely had enough voice to finish the final heroic monologue, a glamorous-voiced but physically rather cold Dalila (Elīna Garanča), and a conductor (Mark Elder) who seemed to think he was conducting a Bach Passion. Because for a couple of hours, I was transported back to those MGM Biblical extravaganzas where gaudiness is next to godliness.
Moses: The man stupid enough to use you as a footstool will not be wise enough to rule Egypt.
|Orgy in the Temple of Dagon! Photo @ Ken Howard|
Elīna Garanča on the other hand caressed your ears with her uniquely cool yet alluring timbre. Her wig and costume were obviously inspired by Hedy Lamarr's screen Delilah (see picture) but she has the physical beauty to pull that sort of thing off. Musically she was immaculate -- she doesn't quite have the earthy chest voice for some of Dalila's lower-lying music but she is that rare singer whose timbre immediately grabs your attention and never lets go. Both "Printemps qui commence" and "Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" were gorgeously sung, with the voice blooming in the upper register. She can also make her voice sound like a sheet of ice and so it was in the third act when she mocked Samson with her "seductive" music from the earlier acts. BUT ... there was very little chemistry between this Alagna and Garanča. During "Mon coeur" there was no sense of overriding passion. It doesn't help that at this point Garanča's buttery smooth mezzo blends with Alagna's raw tenor about as well as chalk and cheese. This was very far cry from their sizzling Carmens.
|Oh come on. This is fun. Photo @Ken Howard|
|Naouri as High Priest|
I eavesdropped on a few conversations around me during intermission. People all seemed to love this production. Again, no one said it was a great production. It was fun. And sometimes you just need fun.
And because this is just gold: