Sun. Jan 29th, 2023

Opera overview

When Seattle Opera introduced that its “Samson and Delilah” could be carried out in live performance as an alternative of standard staging, some opera followers have been perplexed. Wouldn’t it nonetheless be opera?

The reply is a particular “sure,” as audiences for Friday night’s opening present promptly found.

It was a novel expertise to see the orchestra on the stage, positioned again far sufficient from the proscenium opening to go away room for the principal singers throughout the stage entrance. Behind the orchestra, on the very again of the stage and elevated by risers, was the refrain. It seemed a little bit cramped, and the stage was actually full, however the idea labored properly nonetheless.

Putting the orchestra on the stage may appear acoustically chancy: wouldn’t the sound overwhelm the singers? However surprisingly, the onstage orchestra didn’t seem any louder than the conventional quantity ranges from the orchestra pit.

Live performance or no live performance, this manufacturing supplied first-rate singing and appearing, imaginative lighting (cheers to Connie Yun, lighting designer), and a streamlined tackle a traditional. Saint-Saens’ “Samson and Delilah” hasn’t been produced right here since 1965, partly as a result of it’s troublesome and costly to current. Even for die-hard opera purists, this present manufacturing is a cheerful return for an opera of a lot musical magnificence.

This was not solely “nonetheless opera”; it was thrilling opera, significantly each time J’Nai Bridges (Delilah) was on the stage. The corporate debut of this Tacoma mezzo-soprano has been eagerly awaited, significantly because the latest information of her second Grammy nomination, and she or he exceeded all expectations. Bridges’ wealthy, opulent voice illuminated each line of her function, hovering to the excessive B-flat of the opera’s most well-known aria, “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix.” Stunning and regal, she proved an assured actor, convincing each as cynical plotter and as commanding temptress. Bridges was gorgeously attired in spectacular clothes and jewellery (these earrings!) that introduced out the opera glasses throughout McCaw Corridor at a whiplash-inducing pace. What a star!

Her Samson, Yonghoon Lee, proved an ardent tenor and an impassioned actor with a robust voice. His efficiency would have been extra convincing if he had not required the frequent help of a rating (positioned on a music stand, and sometimes moved round because the staging required) within the second half of the manufacturing.

Greer Grimsley, because the Excessive Priest, gave an assured and authoritative efficiency. Grimsley has been singing in Seattle ever since his 2005 Wotan (within the Wagnerian “Ring”), and he retains his well-known energy and resonance.

The Seattle Opera Refrain sounded polished, producing loads of stable and well-tuned choral sound. Kudos to chorusmaster Michaella Calzaretta.

The indispensable heart of the manufacturing was Ludovic Morlot, the previous Seattle Symphony music director and now conductor emeritus. He not solely carried out the orchestra upstage, however frequently pivoted to show downstage, cuing the principal singers once they wanted it. Morlot additionally needed to steadiness the orchestral sound ranges — substantial, however not overwhelming — with what he was listening to from the principals. It was a heroic job: properly accomplished.

“Samson and Delilah in Live performance”

Music by Camille Saint-Saëns. Introduced by Seattle Opera, starring J’Nai Bridges, Yonghoon Lee and Greer Grimsley, with Ludovic Morlot conducting. Subsequent efficiency 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22; McCaw Corridor, 321 Mercer St., Seattle; tickets from $62; 206-389-7676, seattleopera.org

Extra

Melinda Bargreen, a Seattle Instances reviewer since 1977, is a composer and writer. E-mail: [email protected] This report is supported, partially, by the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Ann and Gordon Getty Basis.

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