Virginia Opera will produce the biblical blockbuster Samson and Delilah for the first time in its 43 year history as its 2017-2018 season opener.
The opera has captivated audiences for over 140 years and perhaps best characterizes the familiar tale of seduction, betrayal, sacrifice and revenge through evocative musical storytelling.
The creative talents of international Stage Director, Paul Curran, Set and Costume Designer, Court Watson, and Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Adam Turner have collaborated to establish a fresh concept for the timeless theme. The new production evokes a pre-war oppressive government regime.
“Our take on the show feels epic, sexy, dangerous, romantic, intoxicating and energetic. I think it will be well-received,” said the opera’s Set and Costume Designer and Virginia native, Court Watson.
Undoubtedly, audiences will respond to the familiar biblical story with its vivid themes and destructive final scene while also recognizing two of Delilah’s stunning arias, “Printemps qui commence” (“Spring begins”) and “Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix” (“My heart opens itself to your voice.”) The final act features the decadent “Bacchanale,” a showpiece in which Delilah leads a provocative dance to taunt Samson. The challenges of producing such a complicated story incorporate sweeping choreography and imaginative staging techniques, all part of the creative strategy to bring this impressive drama to life for audiences across the Commonwealth.
Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah provides achingly beautiful music along with Cecil B. DeMille- style grandeur. Besides witnessing history’s most legendary haircut, audiences will be mesmerized by the sheer spectacle, the powerfully seductive music, and the pathos of the doomed hero, Samson.
The cast includes Virginia Opera veterans from former productions. Mezzo-soprano, Katharine Goeldner portrays the conniving seductress, Delilah. Well known for her commanding stage presence, Virginia Opera audiences will well remember Ms. Goeldner, who appeared as Herodias in the Opera’s 2015 production of Salome. Tenor Derek Taylor makes his role debut as the mighty Samson. Mr. Taylor wowed audiences as Prince Calaf in the company’s 2016-2017 blockbuster season finale, Turandot. Baritone, Michael Chioldi returns as the High Priest after delivering memorable performances in Salome (2015) and Pagliacci (2016). Mr. Chioldi performs the same role later this season at Dallas Opera.
Conductor Adam Turner, recently returned from conducting a highly reviewed production of Carmen at Central City Opera, begins his fourth season as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of Virginia Opera. Becoming ever more in-demand as a guest conductor, Turner made a return guest conducting appearance to Hawaii Opera Theatre last spring for a new production of Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers. Regarding Samson and Delilah, Turner stated, “This powerful saga is gorgeously scored by Saint-Saëns and contains some of opera’s most well-known arias. It is a feast for the ears and cannot be missed.”
President and CEO Russell P. Allen commented: “It’s exciting to begin the season with such a stunning work. As a part of the Opera’s on-going First of Firsts Series, Samson and Delilah, never previously produced by Virginia Opera, will make a memorable first impression on audiences across the Commonwealth.”
Samson and Delilah will be performed in French with English supertitles. Performances feature a free 30-minute pre-opera discussion by Virginia Opera’s Community Outreach Musical Director, Dr. Glenn Winters. Tickets start at just $20 and are available at vaopera.org or by calling 866.673.7282.
Samson and Delilah will be performed in Norfolk Sept. 29, Oct. 1 & 3, 2017. For tickets and information visit vaopera.org or call 866.673.7282.