Opera Scotland

Samson and Delilah 1997Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Samson et Dalila

For Scottish Opera, the great importance of the 1996-97 season is that it saw the premiere of Inés de Castro, the first full-length opera by James MacMillan. It had been over a decade since the company had last launched a new work - Harper's Hedda Gabler in 1985. The success of the opening at the Edinburgh Festival was deserved, and it was as well received during the main autumn season. That contained six other full-scale productions: Idomeneo, Trovatore, Bohème, Fledermaus, Samson and Delilah and Cunning Little Vixen. The Opera-Go-Round small-scale tour was an enjoyable staging of Così fan tutte. There was also a bonus in December, with an enjoyable series of concerts around the country under the title The Scottish Opera Collection.

While Samson and Delilah had featured in several Sadler's Wells tours to the central belt in the sixties, it had not been tackled by Scottish Opera before. This production was very nearly a complete success.

Indeed from the musical standpoint there was nothing to complain of. The conducting was appealingly idiomatic, and both orchestra and chorus were on superb dramatic form. In addition, there was no weak leak among the soloists. In particular, the lead couple, Mark Lundberg and Carolyn Sebron, gave beautiful performances. Christopher Purves and Stephen Holloway also made a strong impression in their short roles.

Antony McDonald's staging was near-ideal for the first two acts - the massed choirs sang gloriously in the opening sequence, and Dalila's home could almost have been Brünnhilde's rock. Unfortunately, his touch was distinctly unsure in the final scene in the temple, which was less convincing.  The frenzied bacchanale was one of those ultra-slow-motion jerky efforts on an awkwardly pitched surface, on which anything more exciting would have hazarded life and limb. This problem could have been addressed in revision, but the production was never given again.

Performance DatesSamson and Delilah 1997

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

23 Apr, 19.15 26 Apr, 19.15 7 May, 19.15 10 May, 19.15 29 May, 19.15 4 Jun, 19.15

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

30 Apr, 19.15 3 May, 19.15 19 Jun, 19.15 21 Jun, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

10 Jun, 19.15 14 Jun, 19.15

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