A bit after the fact, but Samson on Tuesday night was something of a mixed bag. As promised Clifton Forbis' dark-hued tenor is worth the trip indeed. The voice is gigantic, easily mistaken for a baritone on the street, and grounded like a mountain--thus, the thrill of hearing him launch it into the stratosphere really doesn't get old. He is also a fine actor, and good thing too, as he is largely left to shoulder the drama alone here.
Maria Domashenko certainly has the dark chocolate sound you want in your Dalila, but she isn't much of an actress. Her 'characterization' basically boiled down to a bag of stock "vampy ho" gesticulating--and sure, there ain't much more to Dalila than that in the end, but there's gotta be something truly sinister and seductive there for Samson's coeur to ouvre to in the second act. Forbis was certainly doing his part in fretting over it, but against Domashenko's thin charms the reponse was more "dude, you need to put yourself together and just bail already." There's also the small problem of her nearly inaudible middle register. Poor Emmanuel Villaume was doing his part to quiet the band for her--often to a fault--but to no avail. No bones about it, her voice just has zero cutting power in 40-60 percent of the required range.
I had never seen this production, and went back and forth about it--i.e. I was real, real sick of salmon tones about 15 minutes into Act II, yet the mesmerizing Orgy des Thongs in Act III had me eating every snarky thought I've ever had regarding lamo French ballet interludes.