Samson et Delilah
Each year, some 55,000 spectators make their way through the doors at the Opéra de Montréal, the largest francophone opera company in North America. Since its foundation in 1980, The Opera of Montréal has strived to offer four to five high quality productions as well as many outreach activities, events and a gala each season to fans of all ages.
To mark their 35th anniversary, from the 24th of the 31st of January, the company unveiled a new production of Samson and Delilah; a grand opera in three acts and four scenes by Camille Saint-Saëns set to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire.
The plot is simple: A tale of lovers’ deceit, the invincible Samson, leader of the suffering Hebrews under the oppressive Philistines, succumbs to the seductive powers of Delilah, who successfully coerces him to reveal the secret of his great strength. All may not be lost for the Hebrews, as Samson’s true power may still lie in his faith…
It is always interesting to see how opera productions evolve with technology and how the new additions are received by various demographics. Alain Gauthier, stage director of Dead Man Walking and winner of the 2013 Opus Award for Musical Event of the Year, introduced a sensual, contemporary HD video component to the otherwise more composed, biblical themed visuals.
This new “video design” (by Circo de Bazuka), introduced in Act 3 - the Bacchanal was not the usual live performance, but rather a projected pas de deux of a nude female and male dancer, spread over 20 vertical panels. The potential of HD projection as an instrument of operatic staging is obvious. During other scenes, the panels were opened or closed to represent doors or used to project columns, clouds and other grandiose props. This production gives us a clear sense of what is gained and lost. The minimalistic video - panel set may very well represent the future of opera as this element was used to replace an otherwise elaborate and costly pagan ballet as well as to create a more cost-friendly exportable production. However, I and several others do mourn the loss of enjoying and seeing a live corps de ballet.
Visuals asides, it is important to give attention to the talent of the cast and chorus.The OdM Chorus gave a strong performance as both the Hebrews and the Philistines and Jean-Marie Zeitouni led the OSM skillfully though Saint-Saëns melodious tunes.
The audience hearts truly awakened at the lyrical and refined voice of Marie-Nicole Lemieux who sang the title role as Delilah in Montreal for the first time. I found her “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” quite beautiful and touching. German tenor Endrik Wottrich, as Samson, was a believable hero with his stocky appearance and booming voice.
For more info on L'Opera de Montreal please consult: http://www.operademontreal.com/en
Another way in which the Opera de Montreal successfully reaches the hearts of younger demographics is through their Night at the Opera evenings.
A seductive evening inspired by Samson and Delilah, this sumptuous benefit event hosted by the Young Associates of the Opera de Montreal was held on January 30th inside Salle Wilfred Pelletier to a sold out crowd of young professionals.
The evening offered a complete multi-sensory experience…much like opera. Amid the enchanting sets of Samson and Delilah, on the program was a colorful belly dancing performance, a live DJ, candy snacks, open bar, VIP lounge, costume activities, and several other surprises such as sample perfume from Thierry Mugler !
This unforgettable evening, inspired by the theme of seduction was an all-round resounding success.
The mission of the Young Associates of the Opera de Montreal is to create and develop an interest in the art of opera among young people under 34 years of age with the goal of creating a new generation of music lovers and philanthropists and raising funds for the company.
For more information on upcoming Young Associates activities, please consult their website: