It wouldn’t be fair to say that Arcola’s production of Sanson et Dalila has been the best operatic production of the season because I have been only here for less than 4 months. But it is the best one I’ve seen so far (and I have seen 14 productions in this little time).

All in this production was take care of with a lot of intelligence and love: costumes, lighting, make-up, on stage movements, acting… and everything at the service of the DRAMA. Here we had the not so frequent magic of opera: a bunch of people starts to sing unbelievable stories and you actually get into them, following the action, the evolution of the characters… everything. Aylin Bozok did the magic.

An example of the care to the details and excellence are the pictures posted on Arcola’s facebook: Grimeborn Sanson

Grimeborn Sanson

How stunning!

Action was placed at some kind of post-apocalyptic future with remembrances to Mad Max and some steampunk and the theatrical ideal worked very well. They designed this production not as a generic one but as one to be staged in this very specific space the Arcola is, where audience is so close to the action. You could feel any of the singers movements, and those representing mind-control puppeteering almost dragged you.

The biggest limitation here was the full Saint-Saëns orchestration being reduced to a single piano. But, again, everything was done cleverly and inter-connected, so when the piano was not able to reproduce the shock of a dense orchestra playing in forte from the score the acting was more intense and you got that effect. Genius.

Leonel Pinheiro as Sanson was incredible. This rol demands a dramatic tenor not so easy to find nowadays. His portrayal of the role was of a strong hero, really intense. He almost sang the whole performance close forte, that worked pretty well in this production.

And Marianne Vidal was very idiomatic and played perfectly her role of the sexual character. Her Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix made us forget for a while all the recordings of this are we have listened to and realize that is was actually a duo part of the action. Can you say more?

So I’m giving this production 9 out of 10 skateboards truly believing that at some point I’ll give it a 10.

At the time I’m writing this Sanson et Dalila is still running for 6 more nights at Arcola. So if you are reading this on time… DO NOT MISS IT: http://www.arcolatheatre.com/event/samson-and-delilah-2017-08-19/