Opera Scotland

Samson and Delilah 1922British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Samson et Dalila

Being a biblical subject and therefore unstaged in the UK at time of composition, Samson and Delilah had been permitted on the British stage for only a decade.  Its huge continuing popularity is attested to by the fact that it was concurrently in the repertoire of both BNOC and Carl Rosa.

 

An Edinburgh Review

The Scotsman of Saturday, 11 March (p9) reviewed the Friday evening performance:

'Last night's performance of Samson and Delilah at the King's Thheatre supplied a striking illustration of how the Beecham ideals are being maintained by the National Opera Company.  With Mr Frank Mullings as Samson, and Miss Edna Thornton as Delilah,  admirably seconded by Mr Augustus Milner as the High Priest, Mr Albert Chapman as Abimelech, and Mr William Anderson as the aged Hebrew, it was a rendering which left little to desire in the way of artistic completeness, while the work of the chorus and orchestra was admirable.

'To the popular ear Samson and Delilah is largely a matter of ''Fair Spring is Returning,'' ''Samson's great patriotic outburst in the first act, ''Softly Awakes,'' and the splendour of the Temple scene.  There is, however, very much more in the opera, and the orchestra's share is very important.  Last night, under the direction of Mr Percy Pitt, Saint Saëns's exquisite orchestration was reproduced with a wonderful charm.

'It is the test of the work of good artists that it always improves, and the Delilah of Miss Edna Thornton seemed better than ever.  A distinguished French musical critic once described the character of Delilah as presented in Saint-Saëns's opera as being largely of the nature of a Pagan Judith, a fanatic rather than a siren, and there was something of this quality in Miss Thornton's impersonation.  It was not all allurement.  Musically, it was a glorious piece of work.

'The Samson of Mr Mullings was carried through in a spirit of fiery exaltation, and the first act has never seemed so dramatic as it became last night from his first impetuous entrance.  Of the remaining characters, it may be sufficient to say that in every case they were in excellent keeping.

'As in the other operas this week, special praise is due to the producer, Mr George King.  The Temple scene, while arranged on lines which are now familiar, seemed to be more effective than usual in its colour and lighting.  In particular, it avoided the common defect of being too brilliant, and with a more judicious allowance of shadow in the background, the picture as a whole, had a fine tone.  The destruction of the Temple, too, was mainly left to the imagination.

'Owing to an error in the programme on Thursday night, the role of Zuniga, the officer of dragoons in Carmen, was credited to Mr William Anderson, instead of to Mr Philip Bertram, by whom it was undertaken at short notice.'

 

BNOC in Scotland - 1922 (Spring and Autumn)

This first season saw BNOC coming to Scotland twice. The spring visit, in March, consisted of three weeks in Edinburgh (King's Theatre).  In the autumn there were four weeks - two at Glasgow Theatre Royal, and two more in Edinburgh.

A total number of nineteen operas were included  - an astonishing number for a newly established company.  Wagner far outweighs any other composers, most notably Verdi:

They were by Mozart (Magic Flute);  Wagner (Tannhäuser,  Tristan and Isolde,   MastersingersValkyrieSiegfriedParsifal); Verdi (Aïda); Saint-Saêns (Samson and Delilah); Gounod (Faust); Offenbach (Goldsmith of Toledo);  Bizet (Carmen); Leoncavallo (Pagliacci); Puccini (BohèmeToscaMadam Butterfly); Debussy (Prodigal Son);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana); Charpentier (Louise).

The schedule was as follows:

Spring

Edinburgh, w/c 6 March:  Mon 6 Aida;  Tue 7 Parsifal;  Wed 8 mat Cav & Pag;  Wed 8 eve Tannhäuser; Thu 9 Carmen;  Fri 10 Samson and Delilah;  Sat 11 mat Madam Butterfly;  Sat 11 eve Faust.

Edinburgh, w/c 13 March:  Mon 13 Mastersingers;  Tue 14 Magic Flute;  Wed 15 mat Samson and Delilah;  Wed 15 eve Carmen; Thu 16 Goldsmith of Toledo;  Fri 17 Madam Butterfly;  Sat 18 mat Bohème;  Sat 18 eve Aïda.

Edinburgh, w/c 20 March:  Mon 20 Parsifal;  Tue 21 Samson and Delilah;  Wed 22 mat Parsifal;  Wed 22 eve Bohème; Thu 23 Mastersingers;  Fri 24 Goldsmith of Toledo;  Sat 25 mat Aïda;  Sat 25 eve Carmen.

Autumn

Glasgow, w/c 6 November:  Mon 6 Parsifal;  Tue 7 Magic Flute;  Wed 8 mat Tosca;  Wed 8 eve Faust;  Thu 9 Louise;  Fri 10 Samson and Delilah;  Sat 11 mat Bohème;  Sat 11 eve Prodigal Son & Pagliacci.

Glasgow, w/c 13 November:  Mon 13 Aïda;  Tue 14 Goldsmith of Toledo;  Wed 15 mat Parsifal;  Wed 15 eve Magic Flute; Thu 16 Mastersingers;  Fri 17 Louise;  Sat 18 mat Madam Butterfly;  Sat 18 eve Faust.

Edinburgh, w/c 20 November:  Mon 20 Magic Flute;  Tue 21 Valkyrie;  Wed 22 mat Bohème;  Wed 22 eve Samson and Delilah; Thu 23 Aïda;  Fri 24 Louise;  Sat 25 mat Faust;  Sat 25 eve Tosca.

Edinburgh, w/c 27 November:  Mon 27 Siegfried;  Tue 28 Tristan and Isolde;  Wed 29 mat Magic Flute;  Wed 29 eve Goldsmith of Toledo; Thu 30 Louise;  Fri 1 Dec Bohème;  Sat 2 mat Parsifal;  Sat 2 eve Samson and Delilah.

Performance Cast

Samson

Frank Mullings (Mar 10)

Abimelech Satrap of Gaza

Albert Chapman (Mar 10)

High Priest of Dagon

Augustus Milner (Mar 10)

Hebrew Elder

William Anderson (Mar 10)

Dalila a Philistine priestess

Edna Thornton (Mar 10)

Performance DatesSamson and Delilah 1922

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

10 Mar, 19.30 15 Mar, 14.00 21 Mar, 19.30 22 Nov, 19.30 2 Dec, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

10 Nov, 19.30

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