OPERA GALA OPENING

Anush Hovhannisyan, soprano, Ketevan Kemoklidze, mezzo, Giulio Pelligra, tenor, Michel de Souza, baritone, Al Bustan Festival Orchestra, Gianluca Marcianὸ, conductor

Wednesday, 15 February at 20:30

The “Queens and Empresses of the Orient” Festival unfolds in the oriental palace of King Herod in Jerusalem with Hérodiade and her daughter Salomé. It is an Orient as seen by the French composers Massenet (1842-1912), Gounod (1818 -1893), Saint-Saens (1835-1921) and the Italian composer Rossini (1792-1868).

Ticket prices: $90, $60
Sponsored byBLOM BANK

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
From Idomeneo Overture
Aria of Elettra “D’Oreste, d’Ajace” (Anush)

Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695)
From Dido and Aeneas
Aria of Dido’s lament (Ketevan)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
From Mitridate
Aria of Mitridate “Se di lauri il crine adorno” (Giulio)
Aria of Aspasia “Al destin che la minaccia” (Anush)

Jules Massenet (1842 – 1912)
From Thais Meditation

Charles-François Gounod (1818 – 1893)
From La Reine de Saba
“Plus grand dans son obscurité (Ketevan)

Jules Massenet (1842 – 1912)
From Herodiade
“Vision fugitive” (Michel)

INTERVAL

Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)
from Semiramide
Ouverture
Aria of Semiramide “Bel raggio lusinghier”(Anush)
Aria of Idreno “La speranza più soave”(Giulio)

Camille Saint Saens (1835 – 1921)
From Samson et Dalila
Bacchanale,
“Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” (Ketevan)
Duet High Priest and Dalila (Ketevan, Michel)

Anush Hovhannisyan, soprano
Winner of First and Public Prizes, as well as a test Deutsche Grammophon recording contract, at the 2016 Stella Maris Competition, and of the 2014 Concours Suisse Ernst Haefliger Competition, Armenian soprano Anush Hovhannisyan was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in Royal Opera House Covent Garden 2013-2015. In addition to appearing in a variety of roles on the main stage, she also sang Lucilla La scala di seta at the Linbury Studio Studios, the soprano solos in Gloria for the Royal Ballet and Verdi Requiem for the Royal Opera House’s Learning and Participation department on tour in France. Since leaving the programme, she has sung Lady in Waiting Macbeth for the Royal Opera’s 2015 tour to Japan.

Anush Hovhannisyan began studying violin aged six at the A. Spendiaryan Music School and went on to study singing at the Yerevan State Conservatory and at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating in 2013. She is a Samling Artist and her many awards and scholarships further include the Clonter Opera Prize, the Margaret Dick Award, a Ye Cronies Opera award, the Bayreuth Prize from the Wagner Society of Scotland, Third Prize at the Les Azuriales International Singing Competition and the Ian Smith of Stornoway Award for Opera, awarded by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She was one of the prizewinners at the Vincenzo Bellini International Bel Canto Competition at the Opera of Marseille, which will take her to Switzerland to perform at the Gstaad New year Music Festival in 2018.

Her wider engagements have included Sitâ Le Roi de Lahore for Chelsea Opera Group, Donna Elvira Don Giovanni at the Teatro Verdi, Trieste, and Anitra Peer Gynt with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Her recordings include Songs by Scriabin for Decca’s complete piano anthology of his music.

Conductors with whom she has worked include Jonathan Santagada, Renato Balsadonna, Semyon Bychkov, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Nicola Luisotti, Daniel Oren, Mark Wigglesworth, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Antonio Pappano.

Current engagements include Adina L’elisir d’amore in Florence, the title role in Maria Stuarda at the Stadttheater Klagenfurt, Shostakovich Symphony No. 14 with the Southbank Sinfonia, Verdi Requiem at City Halls, Glasgow, and the opening of the 2017 Al Bustan Festival. She will make her debut as Violetta Valery in La traviata in 2017 / 2018.

Ketevan Kemoklidze, mezzo soprano
In high demand by major theaters of the world for her extraordinary vocal and stage skills. Born in Tbilisi (Georgia), she received a Master degree at the V. Sarajishvili State Conservatoire (Proff. G. Kariauli). Having been awarded Special Prize of Teatro alla Scala at H.G. Belvedere competition she was admitted in the Academy of Teatro alla Scala without an entrance exam. She is a winner of prestigious international voice competitions including the P. Domingo’s Operalia, the Concours International de Chant de la Ville de Toulouse, the F. Viñas Competition of Barcelona, the H.G. Belvedere International Competition in Vienna, the E. Obraztsova International Vocal Competition in Saint-Petersburg and the Georgian Musicians National and Youth Competitions.

In 2002, still a student at the Conservatory, Ketevan Kemoklidze made her debut as Maddalena in Rigoletto, the title role in Amadigi and Emilia in Otello, distinguished by fine singing and promising quality. Subsequently appears successfully at many of the world’s major opera houses including: as a charming Rosina at leading stages: Deutsche Oper Berlin, Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, Teatro Regio di Parma, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Opéra de Nice, Opéra National in Montpellier, Deutshe Oper am Rhein, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Opéra Municipal de Marseille and at Washington National Opera where she was invited by Maestro Domingo after winning his competition. Also thanks to his invitation she made her notable role and house debut as Cenerentola at the Los Angeles Opera. In 2015 Ketevan made two important and acclaimed debuts: one as Princess Eboli in Don Carlo at Auditorio de El Escorial and as the Queen Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda at Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera. In 2014 she made her outstanding debut as Carmen at Tokyo New National Theatre and later sang the same role also at Mariinsky Theatre. In the same year she made her successful Scandinavian debut as Isolier in “Le comte Ory” at Malmö Opera. She returned to Tokyo and to Washington as Preziosilla in La forza del destino. In 2010 she made her successful Royal Opera House debut as Stephano in Romeo et Juliette. The Special Prize of Gran Teatre del Liceu won at the Belvedere Competition is followed, in 2006, by her appreciated debut in Otello and then in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, in Linda di Chamounix and in Faust at the same stage. She returns to Spain with Le nozze di Figaro and L’arbore di Diana at the stage of Teatro Real Madrid. Ketevan Kemoklidze is a frequent and welcome guest at Italian theaters: At Teatro alla Scala she performed in different operas as Cosi fan tutte, Ascanio in Alba, Salome, Manon, Il barbiere di Siviglia, A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Rigoletto, also on tour in Japan with Teatro alla scala. She sang Stephano in Romeo et Juliette at Arena di Verona and Teatro La Fenice in Venice. She sang Olga in Eugeni Onegin at Teatro San Carlo in Naples. She appeared at Spoleto Festival in La morte de Cleopatre of Berlioz. She was invited by Maestro Pizzi as Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte and as Siebel in Faust at Sferisterio Festival in Macerate. She stared in Cosi fan tutte at Teatro delle Muse in Ancona and in Faust and in Thais at Teatro Reggio Torino. Guest appearance at Oper Graz as Fenena in Nabucco and as Princess Calrice in Love for the three oranges. She conquered with her breathtaking Cherubino the public of Teatro Municipal de Santiago and Opera de Monte Carlo. She performed Innes in Maria Padilla at the Irish most famous Festival in Wexford. She made her Greek debut as a Giulio Cesare at Megaron in Thessaloniki.

Ketevan Kemoklidze made her outstanding film debut as Adriana Ferrarese (Donna Elvira) with the in famous Spanish film director Carlos Saura’s film of Don Giovanni, having won a special prize at various International Film Festivals.

From her prestigious concert activities are important: Ivan the Terrible and Alexander Nevsky on Tour with St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Yuri Temirkanov at Donastia San-Sebastian Music Festival, at Annecy Classic Festival, at Sagra Musicale Malatestiana, at the International Music Festival “MITO”, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with “I Solisti Veneti” in Basilica di San Marco in Venice, the concert “Placido Domingo and his Georgian friends” in Batumi, Handel’s Messiah, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Vivaldi’s Magnificat at inauguration of Veneto International Festival with “I Solisti Veneti”, Il Dolore di Maria Virgine with “I Virtuosi delle Muse” at Teatro Campos in Bilbao, Mozart’s Requiem at Teatro Reggio in Turin, Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and Rückert Lieder at Menhir Music Festival and with the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra in Tbilisi, the 1st International Music Festival “MITO” and The International Music Festival of Stresa “Settimane Musicali di Stresa”, the Mozartfest 2006 in Mannheim, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella at Teatro alla Scala and at 43rd International Festival of A. B. Michelangelo in Brescia, the recital at Theatre du Capitole in Toulouse, Wexford Festival, Hohenems Palest and in Tbilisi, the concerts at Teatro alla Scala, at the Theatre of Basel, at Oper Leipzig, at Tbilisi State Opera. She appears often in charity concerts AIDS-Gala at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Deutsche Oper am Rein, Theater Bonn and etc. Baroque Music Concert with Ensemble del Arte in Neuburg. The first performance in Georgia of Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratory. Her successful appearance in Beethoven’s IX Symphony, Mozart’s Requiemand Messa-Brevis at the International Festival “Autumn Tbilisi”;

Her discography includes Il barbiere di Siviglia, Romeo et Juliette, Faust, Aids-Gala Berlin, Thais, Otello, A Midsummer’s night dream and Salome.
During 2000-2005 she received a scholarship from the President of Georgia.
In 2005 she received a Master’s Degree in International Economic Relations.

Giulio Pelligra, tenor
Real Italian school tenor, holding a highly placed and ringing voice, Giulio Pelligra is one of the most exciting tenors of his generation.
He sang the leading roles in operas by Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and Verdi in some among the world’s major theaters. He appeared in such venues as Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Teatro Filarmonico di Verona, Grand Théatre de Genève, Rossini Festival di Wildbad, Landestheater in Bregenz, Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Teatro Massimo Bellini di Catania, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Teatro Petruzelli di Bari, Teatro Coccia di Novara, Teatro Grande di Brescia, Teatro Fraschini di Pavia, Teatro Ponchielli di Cremona, Teatro Sociale di Como, Teatro Comunale di Modena, Teatro Comunale di Ravenna, Teatro Verdi di Pisa, working with such conductors as Roberto Abbado, Ascher Fisch, Antonino Fogliani, Renato Palumbo, Stefano Ranzani and Donato Renzetti.
During the 2015/16 season he performed Anna Bolena (Riccardo) and I Puritani (Arturo) at Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio) at Teatro Verdi di Salerno, Il viaggio a Remis (Belfiore) at Teatro Coccia di Novara, Il barbiere di Siviglia (Conte d’Almaviva) at Teatro della Fortuna di Fano, La sonnambula (Elvino) at Teatro Filarmonico di Verona and Linda di Chamounix (Carlo) at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma.
He opened the 2016/17 season performing as Gaston in Jerusalem at Theater of Freiburg, followed by Nabucco (Ismaele) at Opéra Royal de Wallonie de Liège, La bohème (Rodolfo) at Opera in Firenze and La Rivale at Teatro Coccia di Novara.
Among his future plans are Otello (Cassio) at Opéra Royal de Wallonie de Liège, Rossini’s Stabat Mater at Bustan Festival in Beirut, Maria Stuarda (Roberto) at Deutsche Oper am Rhein de Düsseldorf.
His recent engagements have included Maometto II (Paolo) at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Don Pasquale (Ernesto) at Basel Theater, La traviata (Alfredo) at Teatro Sociale di Como and at Luglio Musicale Trapanese, Nabucco (Ismaele) and Lucia di Lammermoor (Arturo) at Teatro Massimo di Palermo, L’elisir d’amore (Nermorino) at Bregenz Landestheater, at Teatro Municipale di Piacenza and at Teatro Municipale di Bolzano, La bohème (Rodolfo) at Grand Théâtre de Genève, Romeo et Juliette (Roméo) by Gounod at Teatro Verdi di Pisa, Rigoletto (Duca di Mantova) and La traviata (Alfredo) at Sarzana Opera Festival.

Michel de Souza, baritone
Winner of the Maria Callas vocal competition in São Paulo and the Margaret Dick and Ye Cronies Competition at the RSAMD, he was part of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden where in the season 2012/2013 he sang Shaunard, Captain (Eugene Onegin), Angelotti (Tosca), Flemish Deputy (Don Carlo), City Crier (Gloriana) Servant (Capriccio in concert with Renee Fleming) and covered Belcore and Papageno. In the 2013/2014 he sang Mandarin (Turandot), King (El gato con botas), Morales (Carmen), Nightwatchman (Die Frau ohne Schatten) Baron Douphol (La traviata), Angeloti and Second Commissary (Dialogues des Carmelites) and cover Valentin and Don Giovanni.

He completed the Emerging Artist Programme at Scottish Opera, where he performed Forester (The Cunning Little Vixen), Escamillo (Carmen), Der Notar (Intermezzo) and Marullo (Rigoletto). Other operatic roles include Prince Andrei (War and Peace), Marcello, Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Doctor Miracle (The Tales of Hoffmann), Gaudenzio (Il Signor Bruschino), Harlequin/Musiklehrer (Ariadne auf Naxos) and Peter (Hansel und Gretel).

Michel de Souza began his musical training with the Canarinhos de Petropolis boys’ choir. He graduated in organ from the School of Music of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where he continued to study singing. He later worked with the tenor Benito Maresca in Sao Paulo and then completed a Masters Degree in Opera with distinction at the Alexander Gibson Opera School at Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama.

De Souza spent much of the 2014/15 season working at Le Grand Théâtre de Genève, where the baritone sung the role of Marullo in Rigoletto, Capitaine in Eugene Onegin, Baron Grog in La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein and un Scythe in Iphigénie en Tauride.  He also performed at Grange Park Opera in Samson et Dalila singing the role of the High Priest of Dagon.

In 2015/16 De Souza continued his work at Le Grand Théâtre de Genève, in productions of William Tellas Leuthold and A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Starveling. He returned to the Grange Park Opera to sing the role of Sonora in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West and took part in the production of Salome as 1st Soldier and 1st Nazarene performed with Orchestre National de Lyon.

This season 2016/17 will see de Souza sing the roles of Schaunard in La Boheme (Le Grand Théâtre de Genève), Ping in Turandot at the Royal Opera House, Guglielmo for the Teatro Argentino de La Plata and Gonzales in Il Guarany for the Palacio das Artes in BH Brazil.

Concert work includes Bach’s Christmas OratorioMass in B minorMagnificat and Cantatas BWV 56, 82, 140 and 147, Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Dixit DominusApollo e Dafne and Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Monteverdi’s Vespers, Mozart’s Requiem, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle, Vaughan Williams’Five Mystical Songs, Verdi’s Requiem, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with BBCSSO at the Proms.

Recent concert engagements include Berlioz Scene Heroique and Beethoven 9th Symphony with the Orchestre National de Lyon, Copland’s Old American Songs with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and Lieder eines fahenden Gesellen with the Southbank Sinfonia.
He also appears regularly in recital, singing German Lieder, French chanson and Brazilian songs.

Gianluca Marcianò, conductor
Young Italian conductor Gianluca Marcianò is Artistic Director at the Al Bustan Festival in Beirut.  Previous posts have included the Tbilisi State Opera & Ballet Theatre in Georgia where he conducted La Forza del Destino, Cavalleria Rusticana, Nabucco, Attila, Il Trovatore, Mitridate, Re di Pontoand Aida, as well as concerts with Andrea Bocelli in Georgia.

Highlights within the 2015/16 season include a return to the Opera de Oviedo in October to conduct a new production of Nabucco by director Emilio Sagi, which tours to Gijon and Pamplona. In December, Marcianò will conduct Verdi’s Ernani at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Much of Marcianò’s operatic work in the UK has centred on English National Opera with Jonathan Miller’s production of La Bohème and Anthony Minghella’s production of Madama Butterfly as well as Grange Park Opera where he has conducted productions of Eugene Onegin, Samson et Dalila, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, I Puritani, Queen of Spades and La traviata as well as a gala concert with Simon Keenlyside and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.  He has also conducted at Longborough Festival Opera (Die Zauberflöte, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi fan Tutte and La traviata) and the Chelsea Opera Group (Manon Lescaut, La traviata, La Favorite and Alzira).

Marcianò also had strong ties with the opera houses in Zagreb, Minsk, Sassari and Prague. During his time in Zagreb as the main conductor, he conducted Nabucco, La traviata, Turandot, Carmen, La Cenerentola and Il Barbiere di Siviglia. In Minsk, he has performed Il Barbiere di Siviglia and La traviata, and at the Teatro Verdi in Sassari, La Pietra del Paragone, Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias and the Italian premiere of Debussy’s La Damoiselle Elue. In 2011 he conducted La traviata at the Prague State Opera.
On the concert platform, Marcianò has worked with instrumentalists such as Gautier Capuçon, Arabella Steinbacher, Anna Tifu, Alexandra Soumm, Steven Isserlis, Boris Andrianov, Maria Joao Pires, David Geringas, Khatia Buniatishvili, Sergei Krylov, Nina Kotova, Giovanni Sollima, Sergei Nakariakov and Denis Kozhukin. His recent work includes concerts with the George Enescu Philharmonic and the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he performed Mahler’s Symphony No.1 in 2011. He has a close relationship with the English Chamber Orchestra, opening their 2011/12 London season in a programme including Mozart’s Symphony No.39 and Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.2 at the Cadogan Hall. Other notable orchestras which Marcianò has conducted include the Moscow City Russian Philharmonic, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the English National Opera, the Oviedo Filarmonia, the Sarajevo Philarmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia, The World Orchestra, the Macau Orchestra and Beijing Symphony Orchestra.

  • 7th appearance at the Al Bustan Festival

The Al Bustan Festival Orchestra
The Al Bustan Festival orchestra is an initiative of Maestro Gianluca Marcianὸ and the musician Maxim Novikov.
For the second year, amazing 60 musicians from almost 30 countries join the Al Bustan Festival Orchestra. They have been praised by our public, by the press and by all the soloists who performed with them on stage. This is an important achievement for any Festival, to have its own resident orchestra, formed by enthusiastic musicians who decide to join because, most of all, they love to make music together.

We are also proud to announce that at the Al Bustan Festival 2017 we are launching the Al Bustan Festival Orchestra Academy, for now only open to string instruments but with a great potential to grow in the future. Several players have been selected and will attend master classes at the Emile Bustani Auditorium before the opening of the Festival and the best ones will join the orchestra for an outstanding experience of 3 weeks of concerts!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
From Idomeneo Ouverture
Aria of Elettra “D’Oreste, d’Ajace” (Anush)
Aria of Ilia “Padre Germani” (Ketevan)
Mozart composed Idomeneo during the winter of 1780–81. Its plot concerns the return of Idomeneo, King of Crete, from the Trojan War. Encountering a deadly storm en route, the monarch secures safe passage by vowing to sacrifice to the sea god Neptune the first creature he meets on shore. This is the same fatal bargain made by the Old Testament warrior Jeptha. And like Jeptha, Idomeneo arrives home to encounter immediately his own child. Needless to say, intense psychological conflicts ensue, but tragedy is averted when, at the climactic moment, Neptune agrees to forego the sacrifice if Idomeneo will relinquish the throne to his son, Idamantes, the intended sacrificial victim.

From Mitridate “Se di lauri il crine adorno” aria di Mitridate (Pelligra)
Perhaps Juvenilia is the wrong word for Mitridate, re di Ponto. Mozart’s first opera, composed at the tender age of fourteen, may not sparkle with the genius of his later works, but it is nonetheless highly sophisticated. The story concerns Mitridate, King of Pontus as he attempts to discipline his sons, Sifare and Farnace, who are both after his own young fiancé Aspasia, while attempting to defend his kingdom against encroaching imperialist forces.

Jules Massenet (1842 – 1912)
Thais Meditation
The piece comes from Massenet’s masterpiece, the opera “Thais” based on Anatole France’s novel of the same title. The opera was first played in 1894 at the Paris Opera Theater. The story is set in the in the early first century, on the River Nile. A priest approaches Thais, a dancer of the night world of Alexandria, with the goal of talking her into repentance and leading her to a life of faith. Ironically, however, his own faith is replaced by love for Thais, just as she is becoming inclined to accept religion.
“Meditation” is played by a solo violin with harp accompaniment between the first and second acts. It portrays the change in Thais’ heart, from wanting to seduce the priest, at the end of the second scene of the first act, to wanting to begin a religious life. It is effectively played at the opening of the second act when Thais visits the priest to tell him of her decision. The piece is often played independently as a violin solo.

Charles-François Gounod (1818 – 1893)
La Reine de Saba “Plus grand dans son obscurité (Ketevan)
It’s Gounod’s famous grand opera in four acts, although many publications still divide the two scenes of the third act, ultimately making it a five-act opus, La Reine de Saba (The Queen of Sheba) was first produced by the Paris Opera in February 1862, and The magnificent first production, was directed by Eugène Cormon. Although the libretto was written by Gerard De Nerval, one of the outstanding literary figures of the time, and originally inspired by his own “Le Voyage en Orient”, it was not always suitable for the stage. Consequently, the opera is hardly ever performed, and little of the music, aside from the ballet scenes and the choral march, have survived. The march by reason of its splendor, is favored with band audience everywhere.

Jules Massenet (1842 – 1912)
Herodiade Vision fugitive (Golovatenko)
When Richard Strauss’ sensational opera Salome was premiered in Dresden in 1905, its lurid story provoked a moral outcry — and it also sold a boatload of tickets. Kaiser Wilhelm II declared that the opera would do Strauss “a lot of damage.” Strauss replied that the “damage” had paid for his new house!
But the success of Strauss’ drama may have had the opposite effect on the popularity of another vivid opera based on the same story: Jules Massenet’s Hérodiade.
Clearly erotic obsession plays a key role in Hérodiade, with Herod’s lust for Salome taking center stage. And while Massenet portrays Salome’s longings as more spiritual than sensual, he also lets that work for her. Salome actually seduces John in the opera’s final act — and it may have been that this element got the opera banned in Paris.

Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)
from Semiramide Ouverture
Aria of Semiramide “Bel raggio lusinghier”(Anush)
Aria of Idreno “La speranza più soave”(Pelligra)
There are many contradictory reports as to Rossini’s opera Semiramide. His admirer and biographer, Stendhal, wrote that the opera, which opened in Venice, “…escaped ignominy only by grace of the composer’s sacred and untouchable reputation…” He went on to say, “I have never seen it in performance, but I am not irretrievable broken-hearted over this loss, since the extracts which I have heard in concert-arrangement have left me singularly unenthusiastic.”
On the other hand, the biographer Francis Toye tells us that the Venetian public was ill-disposed to Rossini because of the failure of his opera Maometto, “…, and his enemies in the press openly hiinted that he could not possibly find the time to write an important new opera before the end of the season. Rossini, thoroughly on his mettle, confounded all prognostications by composing in thirty-three days an extremely long and complicated opera which the whole of Europe during the next six years agreed in regarding it as his masterpiece…”
Most operatic overtures introduce themes to be found throughout the opera itself, but Rossini rarely did that. He frequently used material in an overture already used in a previous work, and usually the themes of his overtures are unrelated to the music of the opera. This overture is an exception.

Camille Saint Saens (1835 – 1921)
from Samson et Dalila
Bacchanale,
“mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” (Ketevan)
duet High Priest and Dalila (Ketevan, Igor)
Early in the opera, the Bacchanale (which is really the ballet scene customary in French grand opera) is a festival in tribute to the god Bacchus, patron of all sensual things. It opens with an exotic oboe solo,
whose middle-eastern flavor evokes the lithe image of a dancer sinuously swirling behind flowing veils, to please the onlookers lounging on their pillows. Suddenly, the party comes to life and quickly grows into a
revelry, as the guests are drawn into a frenetic dance. As this excitement builds all around them, Samson and Delilah drift into a private world of their own. The music presents a serene interlude that turns into a
sensuous episode, as a bond develops between the two star-crossed lovers. Its tender themes transform into passionate melodies, until they eventually give way to the original dance music. This grows more and
more intoxicated until it reaches a frenzied climax, as the guests fall exhausted from their efforts. The emotional content of the music is seductive, and Saint-Saëns’ passionate writing gives the lie to his image
as a conservative with craftsmanship but no imagination.