Jon Vickers: "Total Eclipse!" - "Samson" in Barcelona

Jon Vickers - "Total Eclipse!" - Samson Barcelona

Handel shows great insight into the musical equivalent of Milton's literary characterizations in his play. Handel's setting of Samson's lament over his blindness is a perfect rendering of the mood of Milton's empathetic presentation of a condition he himself shares. The libretto closely follows Milton's vivid characterization of the fallen hero early on in the work before he begins to recover confidence in his capacity to do God's will:

O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Blind among enemies, O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!
Light the prime work of God to me is extinct.
And all her various objects of delight
Annull'd, which might in part my grief have eas'd,
Inferior to the vilest now become
Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me.
They creep , yet see; I dark in light expos'd
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse and wrong,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own;
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total Eclipse,
Without all hope of day! . . .
Why am I thus bereav'd thy prime decree?
The Sun to me is dark
And silent as the Moon,
When she deserts the Night.
(Samson Agonistes, 67-82, 86-9)



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