Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Samson, the Jewish suicide bomber
By israelinsider staff April 10, 2007

This April the Canadian Victoria Philharmonic Choir is performing Handel's Samson, but with a different spin, thanks to Artistic Director Simon Capet. The Irishman managed to transform the biblical story of the Samson into the story of a Jewish suicide bomber in pre-state Palestine.

According to the biblical story, Samson has superhuman strength, but fails to follow God's instructions. After being captured and blinded by his enemy, the Philistines, he prays and repents to God and is able to bring down a Philistine temple, thus killing everyone inside, including himself.

Musically, Capet left Handel's work unchanged. However, in the climactic scene in Capet's version, there is no trace of the Philistine temple. Instead, Samson's mother unbuttons her coat, removes the explosives belt she had concealed, and attaches it to Samson's beaten body. She then helps him put on a shirt and he is led offstage. Moments later there is the blast of an explosion and a burst of light offstage.

The Samson story is morally repugnant in any number of ways, but it's a big stretch to transform him into a suicide bomber. Besides the fact that, as the article notes, there have not been any Jewish suicide bombers. This sounds to me like one of those artsy modernizing adaptations that regularly ruin Shakespeare and the like.

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