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Samson et Dalila
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|1. Act I: Dieu! Dieu D'Israel! - Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|2. Act I: Arretez, O Mes Freres! - Jose Luccioni/Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|3. Act I: Implorons A Genoux Le Seigneur... - Jose Luccioni/Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|4. Act I: Qui Donc Eleve Ici La Voix? - Charles Cambon/Jose Luccioni/Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|5. Act I: Que Vois-Je! Abimelech! - Paul Cabanel/Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|6. Act I: Maudite A Jamais Soit La Race... - Paul Cabanel/Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|7. Act I: Hymne De Joie, Hymne De Delivrance... - Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier/Henri Medus|
|8. Act I: Voici Le Printemps Nous Portant Des Fleurs - Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|9. Act I: Je Viens Celebrer La Victoire... - Helene Bouvier/Jose Luccioni/Henri Medus|
|10. Act I: Dance Of The Priestesses Of Dagon - Orch Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
See all 16 tracks on this disc
|1. Act II (Conclusion): Ah! Cesse D'Affliger Mon Coeur! - Jose Luccioni|
|2. Act II (Conclusion): Mon Coeur S'Ouvre A Ta Voix... - Jose Luccioni/Helene Bouvier|
|3. Act II (Conclusion): Mais!...Non! Que Dis-Je, Helas! - Jose Luccioni/Helene Bouvier|
|4. Act II (Conclusion): Act III: Vois Ma Misere, Helas! - Jose Luccioni/Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|5. Act II (Conclusion): L'Aube Qui Blanchit Deja Les Coteaux... - Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|6. Act II (Conclusion): Bacchanale - Orch Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|7. Act II (Conclusion): Salut! Salut Au Juge D'Israel... - Paul Cabanel/Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier|
|8. Act II (Conclusion): L'Ame Triste Jusqu' A La Mort... - Jose Luccioni/Helene Bouvier/Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier/Paul Cabanel|
|9. Act II (Conclusion): Gloire A Dagon Vainqueur... - Helene Bouvier/Chor Of The Nat Opr Of Paris/Louis Fourestier/Paul Cabanel|
|10. Polyeucte: Stances - Jose Luccioni|
See all 14 tracks on this disc
Helene Bouvier, mezzo-soprano - Charles Cambon, basse - José Luccioni, ténor - Henri Médus, basse - Paul Cabanel, baryton... - Chœur & Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris - Louis Fourestier, direction
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) wrote several operas during his career, but Samson et Dalila (1877) has survived alone as his most popular. This release is the first recording ever made of the opera (September 1946). As such, the monaural sound might not sit well with modern listeners, even though it's expertly transferred from mint-condition LPs. As for the performances themselves, José Luccioni's tenor (he's Samson) can be a bit too assertive at times, but only because his voice is so powerful that it really stands out. Hélène Bouvier's voice, however (she's Dalila), is a bit too matronly; one gets the impression that her Dalila is a fortyish woman, and not the young seducer that the character is supposed to be. Still, this was the first recording of the opera and can be recommended for that reason alone. --Paul Cook
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It was the first recording of this opera back in 1946, and many critics consider it to be the best. Carefully transferred to CD by Ward Marston, this set give us an all French-speaking cast (the Samson is Corsican) with Helene Bouvier and Jose Luccioni in the title roles and Louis Fourestier conducting the forces of the National Opera of Paris.
If you have never heard the complete work before, you will be surprised at how dramatic the popular "Mon coeur s'ouvre à toi voix" sounds as the duet it was meant to be.
The only problem is the somewhat wooden characterization of Samson, but Luccioni's ringing tenor more than makes up for that. . There is a good synopsis cued to the track numbers but no libretto. To fill out the second disc, Naxos gives us the tenor in five French opera arias by Gounod, Bizet, and Massenet
At the Naxos bargain price, you literally cannot afford to pass this one up.
Sound: Acceptable mono. Fair, strongly tending to good, overall.
Documentation: No libretto. Short essay on history of the opera. Plot summary. Mini-bios of the major performers.
"Samson et Dalila" was originally conceived as an oratorio but it was refashioned as an opera before its first performance. To some opera fans, that oratorio attachment is an indelible stain. Of all operas, this one is probably most criticized for its static nature. However, consider the plot. In Act I there is rebellion, murder and a cry for revenge. Act II has conspiracy, seduction and betrayal. Into Act III is crammed despair, redemption, ballet, boisterous pagan religious services and, finally, triumphant annihilation. And, oh, yes, along the way is some of the most memorable music ever written for the mezzo voice. As Basil Fawlty might ask, what more do you want, majestic herds of wildebeest racing across a plain with Krakatoa exploding in the distance?
The Samson is Jose Luccioni, a thoroughly French performer despite his name. He combined full commitment with a strong and dramatic voice. The Amazon house reviewer calls him too assertive. I find it difficult to see how anyone portraying a chap who takes on a whole army while armed with no more than the jawbone of an ass can be TOO assertive. Luccioni is fine as far as I am concerned.
I suspect that Helen Bouvier had a rather smaller voice than some of her great successors in the role of Dalila. She was at her best in the middle of her range. At the very top and bottom, she presented noticeable differences in vocal coloration. For all that, she found her way fully into the character of Dalila and offered high dramatic precision with each note. The opinion of the house reviewer notwithstanding, to my mind, Dalila is not in the first blossom of her youth, but rather a woman who is entirely more sophisticated and exotic, all the better to outsmart a country bumpkin like Samson. Bouvier works for me.
Paul Cabanel plays the High Priest of Dagon. He was nearly sixty in 1946 and would be making recordings for at least another six years. He is terrific in the part, maybe the best of the three lead singers. I am not aware of anyone who has subsequently recorded the High Priest who was his better or even his equal.
Louis Fourestier conducts the first two-thirds of the opera in a perfectly satisfactory manner, but he fully comes into his own with a rollicking rendition of the Act III ballet music and the tauntingly jolly duet of Dalila and the High Priest.
The conductor, singers, orchestra and style of this "Samson et Dalia" are all authentically, authoritatively French, providing a sharp contrast to the polyglot casts and international performance style of today. I fully agree with the perceptive Mr. Behrens when he writes that at the Naxos bargain price for this recording you can't pass it up. I shall go one step farther and give it a full five stars.