In 1733, two important personalities worked together: Voltaire, the brightest thinker of his time, and Rameau, the greatest composer. Together they wanted to reform the art of opera and created the opera “Samson” based on the biblical story. However, the libretto was considered offensive and censored, and the music was lost. Only fragments later reappeared in other works.

In the air, sounds hover and swirl like ominous birds, infrabass and the light tinkling of aeolian bamboo deployed by sound designer Mathis Nitschke. (Le Monde)

Samson – Fotos: Monika RittershausClaus Guth and Raphaël Pichon did not want to reconstruct the original work, but to revive the spirit of this extraordinary project. They combined a powerful and noble narrative with impressive music. Samson is God’s chosen one, but his extraordinary strength isolates him and sets him apart from others. Through a series of disappointing love affairs, his power turns into a destructive force and he becomes the first suicide assassin in history.

An expert in musical montage, Raphaël Pichon was able to erase the seams of this new patchwork, and link acoustic baroque music to pre-recorded sound design by Mathis Nitschke: ambiences and sound effects that weave other links between the audience and this stage where a story unfolds between two times, that of 2024 and the other, not really defined, where Samson is looking for a place between the Hebrews who have chosen him as their leader, and the Philistines who keep the Hebrews in slavery. (Telerama.fr)

Surrounded by Jarrett Ott, Jacquelyn Stucker and Lea Desandre in the leading roles, the Pygmalion choir and orchestra become fully-fledged actors in a sublime, extraordinarily topical fresco.

The production is accomplished and precise, demonstrating an exceptional sense of stagecraft: set design, lighting and movement are all to the point, even when the chorus and dancers move in slow motion, striking freeze-frames as the violence erupts. (Le Figaro)

I have contributed sound compositions based on the improvisational playing of percussionists in early music. In this tradition, wind and weather are presented in a musical-dramatic way, and there is a certain competition to see who can build the most interesting instruments and achieve the most impressive effects. Mathias Lachenmayr, percussionist of the ensemble der/gelbe/klang, of which I am also a member, is a master at playing prepared percussion instruments. In two night sessions, we recorded a large amount of material, for example extremely low-tuned timpani played with a superball. These sounds form the bridge between the live orchestra and a sound world that is more familiar from films and games.

Audiences loved the Marvel-style special effects illustrating the hero’s Herculean feats, with laser beams sweeping across stage and audience, saturated flashes of light streaking across space to reveal sumptuous, epic, post-traumatic pictorial scenes, set to an Apocalypse soundtrack weighted down with percussive effects and explosions. (Le Monde)

On July 12, the evening will be broadcast live on Arte.tv:
https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/RC-014822/festival-d-aix-en-provence/

On the day of the premiere at lunchtime there was an audience discussion with my participation:

the Festival d’Aix confirms its ability to position itself at the forefront of the world’s lyrical creation. (La Provence)

Info: https://festival-aix.com/en/programmation/opera/samson

SAMSON

JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU (1683-1764)

WORLD PREMIERE FESTIVAL D’AIX-EN-PROVENCE
A COPRODUCTION WITH THÉÂTRE NATIONAL DE L’OPÉRA-COMIQUE

CONDUCTOR AND MUSICAL CONCEPT
Raphaël Pichon

STAGE DIRECTION, CONCEPT AND SCENARIO
Claus Guth

SET DESIGN
Étienne Pluss

COSTUME DESIGN
Ursula Kudrna

LIGHTING DESIGN AND VIDEO
Bertrand Couderc

CHOREOGRAPHY
Sommer Ulrickson

SOUND DESIGN
Mathis Nitschke

EDITORIAL ASSOCIATE
Eddy Garaudel

DRAMATURGY
Yvonne Gebauer

CONDUCTOR’S ASSISTANT
David Belkovski

VOCAL COACH, HARPSICHORD
Ronan Khalil

STAGING ASSISTANTS
Juana Inés Cano Restrepo, Romain Gilbert

SET DESIGN ASSISTANT
Manuel La Casta

COSTUME ASSISTANT
Louise-Fee Nitschke

DANCE CAPTAIN
Evie Poaros

SAMSON
Jarrett Ott

DALILA
Jacquelyn Stucker

TIMNA
Lea Desandre

ACHISCH
Nahuel di Pierro

ELON
Laurence Kilsby

L’ANGE
Julie Roset

PREMIER JUGE / UN CONVIVE
Antonin Rondepierre

LA MÈRE DE SAMSON
Andréa Ferréol

SAMSON JEUNE
Gabriel Coullaud-Rosseel

UN SANS-ABRI
Pascal Lifschutz

DANCERS
Gal Fefferman, Theo Emil Krausz, Victoria McConnell, Manuel Meza, Rouven Pabst, Francesco Pacelli, Dan Pelleg, Marion Plantey, Evie Poaros, Robin Rohrmann, Victor Villarreal, Marko Weigert

EXTRAS
Alexandre Charlet, Arnaud Fiore, Jacky Kumanovic

CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA
Pygmalion