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Samson

George Frideric Handel Samson 15 November 1958,

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Samson and Vickers: two men of immense physical strength, lonely yet able to command the admiration of all around them, men of unwavering principle and heroic dedication who brooked no opposition.

The tenor was perfectly cast, and his opening aria, Total Eclipse , could and would bring down the house, wherever he sang it. The role was one of his favourites and yet no recording of it has ever been issued, until now. With the young Joan Sutherland on hand for Let the Bright Seraphim, the supporting cast is hardly less distinguished. Mid-Samson rehearsal, Vickers once stormed out of one opera house in high dudgeon, having declared to the man in the pit that I don t have time to teach you how to conduct.

That man, however, was not Raymond Leppard, who stands at the forefront of the revival of Baroque oratorio and opera in this country, and it is his, somewhat abridged, edition of Handel s oratorio that we hear. This is, safe to say, a unique contribution to Handel Year, 2009.