Calixto Bieito is taking on Samson (good luck with that)

Calixto Bieito is taking on Samson (good luck with that)


norman lebrecht

April 22, 2022

The controversial Catalan director plans to resurrect an unperformed opera written 150 years ago.

It’s by the Swiss composer Joachim Raff (1822-1882) and it will open the opera season at Weimar this fall.

Don’t all rush at once.


  • IP says:

    S/Mson, director’s lash.

  • guest says:

    Poor CB labors under the misapprehension he is avant-garde. This delusion is shared by a few opera house managers, critics, and politicians of a certain generation – CB’s generation. Sigh. He is soooooo yesterday. Soooooo stuck in the 1970s, when nudity was the naughtiest trick juveniles could imagine. Second naughtiest was going places unkempt and wearing ill assorted duds. The original “art” of the period never made it past this weird quest for naughtiness.

  • zayin says:

    1) Based on this, the prelude to Act III is worth the price of the ticket:

    2) You know, in today’s climate, the season opener is going to be an “unperformed opera” one way or another, whether by a dead white male, or by a live BIPOC female, which ever makes you feel more virtuous

  • Peter X says:

    Apparently Liszt was quite enthusiastic about this work.
    So, let’s give it a chance…whatever Bieito makes of it.

  • Ragnar Danneskjoeld says:

    Thanks, I would have missed that one.
    I saw Raff’s opera “Kobold” in Regensburg last year. A wonderful combination of Rossini and Lortzing.

  • Robert Holmen says:

    I have no idea about this opera but there is a mountain of good material from the Romantic era sitting in archives ready to be mined.

    These works may have been hits in their time and then discarded as tastes changed but… tastes have changed again and many of them would be more eagerly received today than the modern pieces now being commissioned at great cost and now being presented at great disappointment to the audience.

    • guest says:

      You have no idea about this opera but you assume it is good, and not only this one, but an entire mountain. Hm. Let’s wait for the first performance before we rush in with opinions. It is however safe to make assumptions about CB’s staging, he is a known quantity.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    But why not Joachim Raff? In his time he was hugely respected, and by the likes of Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann (Clara not so much), Franz Liszt (who turned to Raff for assistance with orchestration), Richard Strauss, and Hans von Bülow. Sure, an earlier generation than ours put his reputation entirely into the shade, but do we — should we — defer to the musical decisions of that era in other respects?

    I see someone has posted online an old Fanfare review of mine of two Raff violin concertos. Here it is for the morbid and curious:

    If this opera captures the best of Raff’s melodic impulses, and resists his less happy pandering to the demands of the virtuosos, it could have some real potential.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    I would go to hear and see Raff’s opera. No way would I go to see Bieito’s disfigurement of it.

  • Nick2 says:

    May the good Lord help Samson!

  • Hugo Preuß says:

    I don’t get the snarky last line. I will definitely rush to the Weimar DNT. I’m thrilled to finally have the chance to hear a Raff opera – a great composer, undeservedly neglected. Phenomenal symphonies. And now, finally, one of his operas on stage!

    As for Bieito – well, you can always close your eyes. But keep your ears wide open for Joachim Raff!

    • guest says:

      “As for Bieito – well, you can always close your eyes.”
      Unfortunately you can’t close your wallet as well, you still have to pay for CB’s garbage. And paying for his garbage indirectly is what keeps him in business.

  • pjl says:

    His Komische Oper DIE GEZEICHNETEN by Schreker was one of the most powerful productions I have seen; not all his ideas are to be condemned.

  • John G. DEACON says:

    Bieito will have to confront the Fura dels Baus production known as – one of the lowest points in any production I have suffered (Valencia : 20 Jan 2016) when, during the Bacchanale, a pregnant woman was hoisted up some 10-15m above the stage and, with her belly ripped open, the bloodied foetus fell to the stage. The audience was so shocked there wasn’t a reaction of any kind. All struck dumb. Have fun Calixto – I shan’t be there.