Friday, June 15, 2012

Preview: In which we hear a lady weighted by a heap of hurt

Yes, in the click-through we're going to hear Callas,
in what I think of as one of her great recordings.

by Ken

I'm not being intentionally mysterious . . . okay, I guess I am, but not gratuitously mysterious. The lady whose musical acquaintance we're about to make isn't normally thought of as a victim, but we're going to hear her in a condition of pain that -- in a good performance -- I find almost palpable. (It shouldn't be any surprise that we're setting up for a performance by Maria Callas. She was especially good at rooting out characters' pain.)

I just thought it would be interesting to hear how the lady's composer sets up this outpouring. So we're going to hear this musical introduction, and then in the click-through we'll go straight into


Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis, cond. Philips, recorded February 1989


TO MAKE OUR HURTING ACQUAINTANCE --

Waiting for Samson: the Sorek valley in modern-day Israel

SAINT-SAËNS: Samson et Dalila, Op. 47: Act II: Dalila, "Samson, recherchant ma présence" ("Samson, seeking my presence again") . . . "Amour! viens aider ma faiblesse!" ("Love! come aid my weakness!")
[For an English translation of the text, see below.]

Maria Callas (s), Dalila; Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française, Georges Prêtre, cond. EMI, recorded Mar.-Apr. 1961

NOW LET'S PUT THE ACT II PRELUDE
AND DALILA'S GREAT SOLO TOGETHER


Note that in these excerpts, not only do we have the Act II Prelude before the aria, but afterward we hear the orchestral transition up to the actual entrance of the High Priest. In this brief passage we hear a continuation of Saint-Saëns's musical characterization of the approaching thunderstorm -- surely begun in the Act II Prelude -- of the approaching thunderstorm, which will run through Dalila's great scenes with the High Priest and then Samson.

SAINT-SAËNS: Samson et Dalila, Op. 47: Act II: Prelude: Dalila, "Samson, recherchant ma présence" ("Samson, seeking my presence again") . . . "Amour! viens aider ma faiblesse!" ("Love! come aid my weakness!")
The stage represents the valley of Sorek in Palestine. At left, the dwelling of DALILA, fronted by a light portico and surrounded by Asiatic plants and luxuriant vines. Night is beginning, and becomes complete through the course of the act.

Prelude

At curtain rise, DALILA is seated on a rock near the portico of her house, seeming lost in reverie.

DALILA: Samson, seeking my presence again,
this evening is to come to this place.
Here is the hour of vengeance,
which must satisfy our gods.

Love! come aid my weakness!
Pour the poison in his breast!
Make it happen that, conquered by my artfulness,
Samson is in fetters tomorrow!
In vain would he wish to be able
to chase me out of his soul, to banish me.
Could he extinguish the flame
that memory feeds?
He is mine! my slave!
My brothers fear his wrath;
I, along among all, I defy him
and hold him at my knees!

Love! come aid my weakness!
Pour the poison in his breast!
Make it happen that, conquered by my artfulness,
Samson is in fetters tomorrow!
Against strength is useless,
and he, the strong among the strong,
he, who broke his people's chains,
will succumb to my efforts.

Christa Ludwig (ms), Dalila; Munich Radio Orchestra, Giuseppe Patanè, cond. Eurodisc/BMG, recorded 1973

Marjana Lipovšek (ms), Dalila; Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Sylvain Cambreling, cond. Koch-Schwann, recorded live at the Bregenz Festival, July 21, 1988


IN THIS WEEK'S SUNDAY CLASSICS POST . . .

We're going to hear more from Dalila, and from a perhaps surprising Irish cousin of hers.
#

No comments:

Post a Comment