For years Olga Borodina was one of the leading mezzo-sopranos in the world, singing in all the major opera houses and dominating the lyric and dramatic mezzo repertoire. She possessed comic timing in multiple Rossini roles and was a dramatic tour de force in roles like Amneris, the Princess of Bouillon and Laura in “La Gioconda.” She also brought brilliance to the Russian repertoire. However, the role that she will forever be remembered for is Dalila in “Samson et Dalila.”
With her alluring figure, her dominant stage presence, her smoldering and seductive voice, Borodina was and continues to be the ideal Dalila of our time. With the celebration of her birthday on July 29, 1963, we’re taking a look at some of Borodina’s great performances and recordings of Dalila.
1998 Erato Recording
The 1998 recording is the earliest commercial document of Borodina’s interpretation. Here she performed the role with José Cura and the two showcase a big contrast. Cura has a raw spinto sound while Borodina has a suave timbre that easily seduces. They are joined by the forces of Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra.
1998 From The Metropolitan Opera
On Sept. 23, 1998, Borodina helped ring in the 98-99 season with Plácido Domingo in what is one of the very best recordings available on DVD. Borodina shows off her incredible and fierce acting skills alongside Domingo, who is at the top of his game. Elijah Moshinsky’s abstract and colorful production also creates some very theatrical imagery and the Bacchanale is performed to perfection. With James Levine conducting and René Pape and Sergei Leiferkus rounding out the cast, this is a recording not to be missed.
2002 from Milan
The 2002 performance, which was televised and never released, shows Borodina a bit more mature and refined. Her colors are more varied and her voice takes on a darker and more potent sound. Joined by Domingo, the two once again show striking chemistry and perform their duet to perfection.