"Bacchanale" from "Samson and Delilah"

Samson and Delilah is the most famous of the 13 operas by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. The libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire is based on the Old Biblical myth of Samson, the giant-gifted defender of the Israelites from the Philistine warriors. The seductive Delilah, with whom he falls in love, managed to learn the secret of his superhuman power. And it is in his long hair, braided into seven plaits, treacherously cut by the Philistine woman. Blinded, imprisoned, and condemned to death, he regains his strength with God’s help, toppling the columns of the temple, and with him perish Delilah and Israel’s enemies. Initially rejected by the directors of the Paris Grand Opera, Samson and Delilah was staged in Weimar, the premiere being conducted by  Ferenc Liszt on 2 December 1877. The audience greatly appreciated Saint-Saëns’s rich melodic gift and his ability to construct an evocative musical drama. The ballet scene Bacchanal (from Act III of the opera) spectacularly intertwines Eastern colour with French spirit and is often performed as a stand-alone concert piece.

 

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