Bob Jones University will present Samson et Dalila, an opera with over 200 student participants, in Rodeheaver Auditorium Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“Samson et Dalila is grand opera at its finest, and our upcoming production will not disappoint,” said Darren Lawson, dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication, in a news release. “The sets and costumes are equally grand and the cast of 160, accompanied by our 53-piece orchestra, will bring the story to glorious life on stage.”
French composer Camille Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila tells the biblical narrative of Samson as he strays from serving God because of the influence of Delilah, a Philistine woman.
Professional guest artists, including Clay Hilley, Dana Beth Miller, Brandon Hendrickson and Kevin Thompson, will supplement the majority student cast.
The student understudies for Samson and Delilah, Caleb Wutzke, a senior music education major, and Sarah Grace Johnson, a senior voice performance major, have prepared for their roles for months. This preparation allowed them to coach the guest artists, who will actually portray the characters.
“I’m not your typical Samson,” Wutzke said, “but I try to make it my own character.”
Johnson said she has enjoyed the chance to participate in the opera. “I think my favorite part has been getting to spend time with some of my closest friends,” she said.
Timothy Hulbert, a sophomore theatre major and the assistant director for the production, has enjoyed working with the cast.
“It has been amazing to see the progress of the show and how far each student has come from their experience in the opera,” he said.
Michael Moore, the chair of the Division of Music and conductor for the opera, said the score is complex.
“From the first cinematic moments of the opening act to the cacophany of the final scene, Saint-Saëns’ score rewards us with sumptuous colors, heroic fanfare, biting irony and a cathartic climax that packs a truly visceral punch,” he said.
Lawson said students will benefit from the event. “It’s important that students are exposed to the operatic artform,” he said. “It’s a stretching experience to accentuate your liberal arts training here at BJU.”
Moore asked students to come to the production with an open mind. “I hope people can take away some ‘selah’ moments—a chance to stop and meditate and take a break from the busy culture.”