Saint-Saëns’s Dalila: She's a Femme Fatale

She seduces, she traps, she destroys. She's a femme fatale and her signature aria is the dangerously alluring “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix” from Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Saëns. "My heart opens to your voice,” sings Dalila, "like the flowers open to the kisses of the dawn." It sure sounds like a love song, but just below the surface it’s simmering with seduction and betrayal. In this episode, host Rhiannon Giddens and her guests reflect on the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah, the trope of the femme fatale and how Saint-Saëns created this unforgettable moment that sounds as if Dalila’s slowly removing her clothing, one note at a time. Plus, you'll hear mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča sing the complete aria from the Metropolitan Opera stage. The Guests Mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča made her Met debut a decade ago, but the role of Dalila is relatively new to her: she first sang Samson et Dalila at the Vienna State Opera in May 2018. But judging from her recent appearance at WQXR, the part of a Biblical seductress suits her just fine.
James Jorden is the founding editor of the world's first (and still very popular) opera blog Parterre Box. He's written for many other publications, including Opera News, The New York Times and the New York Observer. In another life, he used to sing “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix."
Dr. Caroline Blyth teaches religious studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and studies Biblical themes in contemporary culture. She spent eight years researching the Delilah story for her book Reimagining Delilah’s Afterlives as Femme Fatale: The Lost Seduction.  

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