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Town Hall Theater brings two classics, live in HD

Get your dose of opera this weekend and next. Both Saturdays the Met live in HD, will screen at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. First “Samson et Dalila” on Oct. 20, 1 p.m., followed by Puccini’s “American” opera, also at 1 p.m.
Tickets are $24/$10 students and may be purchased at townhalltheater.org, by calling (802) 382-9222, at the THT box office Monday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m., or at the door one hour before show time.
“Samson et Dalila”
When mezzo-soprano El?na Garan?a and tenor Roberto Alagna joined forces for a new production of “Carmen” at the Met, the results were electrifying. Now this star duo reunites for another sensual French opera when they open the season in the title roles of Saint-Saëns’s biblical epic “Samson et Dalila.” Darko Tresnjak, who won a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical in 2014 for “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” makes his Met debut directing a vivid, seductive staging, featuring a monumental setting for the last-act “Temple of Dagon,” where the hero crushes his Philistine enemies. Sir Mark Elder conducts the first new Met production of the work in 20 years.
The source of this popular opera is a single chapter in the biblical “Book of Judges,” and the brevity of the tale did nothing to prevent it from becoming one of the world’s great stories of love (or at least passion) — as well as the archetypal depiction of a man betrayed by an immoral woman. Saint-Saëns’s opera, along with other artistic renderings across multiple genres, has had an important role in the popularization of this tale. Despite tepid success early on, “Samson et Dalila” eventually conquered the operatic world and has proven itself a magnificent evening of theater.
The score of this opera teems over with color and dramatic aptitude and is a worthy compendium of Saint-Saëns’s diversified genius. Portions of the opera, including Dalila’s seduction aria “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” and the extraordinary ballet sequence in the final scene — the “Bacchanale” — are known well beyond the opera house. Throughout the work, the score brilliantly animates all the powerful and diverse colors in the iconic story, from the lurid to the exotic, the crass, the sensual and even the sublimely spiritual.
Scott Morrison will give a pre-show talk downstairs in the Byers Studio at 12:15 p.m.  Run time is approximately 3 hours, 20 minutes with two intermissions.
Broadcast live at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 1 p.m.
Puccini’s “American” Opera
Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek sings Puccini’s gun-slinging heroine in “La Fanciulla del West,” with the heralded return of tenor Jonas Kaufmann in the role of the outlaw she loves. Tenor Yusif Eyvazov also sings some performances. Baritone Željko Lu?i? is the vigilante sheriff Jack Rance, and Marco Armiliato conducts.
Puccini’s “American” opera, based on David Belasco’s play “The Girl of the Golden West,” had its glamorous and highly publicized world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera, with the composer in the audience. The drama is set during the California Gold Rush, and the girl of the title is one of Puccini’s most appealing heroines — a strong, independent woman determined to win the man she loves. Although it fell out of favor with audiences for a few decades following its original success, “Fanciulla” has rebounded in popularity in recent years and is now counted among Puccini’s best works.
David Clark will give a pre-show talk downstairs in the Byers Studio at 12:15 p.m.  Run time is approximately 3 hours, 33 minutes with two intermissions.
Broadcast live at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 1 p.m.

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