Saint Saens : Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah (Arranged for Brass quintet)

Product Code : Saint Saens_01
Samson and Delilah (Op. 47) which in French is Samson et Dalila, is a grand opera in three acts and four scenes set to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire. It was first performed in Weimar at the Grossherzogliches (Grand Ducal) Theater (now the Staatskapelle ) on 2 December 1877 in a German translation. The opera is based on the Biblical tale of Samson and Delilah found in Chapter 16 of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. It is the only opera by Saint-Saëns that is still regularly performed.
In the middle of the 19th century, a revival of interest in choral music swept France, and Saint-Saëns, who admired the oratorios of Handel and Mendelssohn, made plans to compose an oratorio about Samson and Delilah. He began work on the theme in 1867, just two years after completing his first (and still unperformed) opera, Le timbre d'argent. He had approached Ferdinand Lemaire, about writing a libretto for the oratorio but Lemaire convinced him that the story was better suited to an opera.
After Lemaire finished the libretto, Saint-Saëns began actively composing the opera during the period 1867–1869, Unfortunately, the French public reacted negatively to the idea of putting a Biblical subject on the stage. This caused him to abandon further work on the opera for the next two years. However, Franz Liszt was an enthusiastic supporter of the opera and was instrumental in arranging the first production in Weimar. In the summer of 1872, Saint Saens went to Weimar to see the first revival of Wagner's Das Rheingold under the baton of Franz Liszt. Liszt was highly interested in producing new works by talented composers and persuaded Saint-Saëns to finish Samson and Delilah, even offering to produce the completed work at the grand-ducal opera house in Weimar. Encouraged by this, Saint-Saëns resumed work on the opera and worked on it sporadically for the next few years. In 1875, he presented act 1 in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet in a similar format as a previous 1870 performance of act 2, however the work was harshly received by music critics and failed to gain the public's interest. Fortunately, the support by Liszt and others provided the composer with an incentive to persevere with the opera, and he completed the score in 1876. With Liszt’s persistent support the Opera was performed the following year at Weimar in 1877.
Liszt had a powerful influence at the Weimar court. Eduard Lassen, who succeeded Liszt as the director at Weimar, Lassen owed much of his success to his famous predecessor, and Liszt used his influence to arrange the premiere of Samson et Dalila with Lassen conducting during the 1877/1878 season. The libretto was translated into German for the production, and the opera's first performance was given on 2 December 1877 at the Grossherzogliches Theatre (Grand Ducal Theater). This time it was a resounding success with the Weimar critics and audience, however the opera was not immediately revived in other opera houses.
After the numerous setbacks, it suffered in its early years, Samson et Dalila finally began to attract the attention of the world's great opera houses during the 1890 and the popularity of the opera gradually gained momentum being performed in Monaco, the US, Italy and the UK by 1909.
The opera has continued to remain moderately popular since and, while not being among the most frequently performed operas, the work has become a part of the standard opera performance repertory at most major opera houses. While none of Saint-Saëns's later operas suffered, the problems experienced with Samson et Dalila, none of his other works have achieved the same enduring success either.
Bacchanale is performed in Act 3 scene 2. It is set In the Temple of Dagon, where the Philistines are preparing a sacrifice to commemorate a victory. The priests and priestesses of Dagon begin singing softly, but the music turns savage as the priests dance a wild Bacchanale. Following the dance, Samson is led in. He is ridiculed by the High Priest and the crowd. Dalila taunts Samson further by recounting to him the details of a devious plot. When the priests try to force him to kneel before Dagon, he asks to be lead to the two main pillars of the temple. Samson prays to God to restore his strength, and pushes down the pillars and the temple with them, crushing himself and his enemies.
We would class this arrangement as of intermediate difficulty, mainly for the 2 trumpets, however we hope that you will consider this as a good inclusion to a concert programme.
No. of Players : 5 Difficulty : Intermediate Arranged by : Mark Leigh
Download sample file : Click here
In most cases, this is the arrangment being played back using the Sibelius video export facility, but in some cases this is an actual performance by groups commissioned by Undiscovered Brass to actually perform the arrangment.
Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah (Arranged for Brass quintet)
Price : £20