Article Title

The Power of an Opera

Document Type

Essay on Religion


In lieu of an abstract, below is the essay's first paragraph.

Samson et Dalila, a French opera composed by Camille Saint-Saëns, tells the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, focusing specifically on the final chapters of the story from the Book of Judges—Samson’s betrayal and death. After many years of struggle and conflict, Samson et Dalila was finally finished in 1876 as an opera rather than an oratorio. This was the idea of Ferdinand Lemaire, who composed the libretto for the opera. Much conflict and disapproval arose from this decision, as nobody during this time expected a biblical story to be presented as an opera. Despite the disapproval of opera lovers, the opera spread across France and became widely known. Because there are many different components to the opera, I will be dividing my paper into three sections: The Biblical Story, the Libretto, and the Music of Samson and Delilah. The first section will focus on the biblical text, allowing me to incorporate five commentaries about the story. The next section will be centered on the libretto—who composed it, how it was composed, and its quality. In this section, I will compare and contrast the biblical story and the libretto, analyzing if and how faithful Lemaire is to the actual biblical story. The final section is all about the musical world of the opera, such as the voices, lighting, costumes, scenery, and acting apart, of course, from the music itself.

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