Samson et Dalila: Camille Saint-Saens's most well-loved expression of his wild terror of women still packs houses with regularity. In the hands of Florida Grand Opera, it is eminently worth seeing, though maybe not for the reasons Saint-Saens had in mind.While originally intended as a demonstration of a pure musical aesthetic, now Samson et Dalila is simply a very beautiful noise. Try to draw great meaning out of it and you're in for a boring night. Take it as an aesthetic triumph, as a moment of sonic and visual beauty and of passion deftly given voice, and you may leave the theater breathless. Samson et Dalila is a fine vocal showcase, but the true highlight of Florida Grand Opera's production may well be the production itself. The scenery on display at Florida Grand Opera is uncanny: temple steps that seem to stretch hundreds of yards into an infinite desert; Dalila's psychedelic prehistoric shag-pad; an epic and singularly depressing millstone; the Philistine's Temple of Dagon. The sets are utterly seductive: In the Temple, the Philistines go crazy in a balletic orgy to the strains of "Bacchanalia," while Samson stands eyeless in Gaza, looking glum. So alluring is the scene and so entrancing is the music from the massively enthusiastic (if underpowered) orchestra, that most modern operagoers will find themselves siding with the Philistines. Brandon K. Thorp Through May 6 at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Call 800-741-1010, or visit www.fgo.org.
By Any Other Name ... Romeo & Juliet: Ballsy as all hell to inaugurate a new theater company with a reworking of Romeo & Juliet, isn't it? That's what Antonio Amadeo's Naked Stage is up to, and bless them for it. The general idea is thus: What makes Romeo & Juliet work so well are not the traditional staples of the story that people cling to so ferociously the youth of its protagonists, the vast hoardes of bloodthirsty Venetians. So the Naked Stage has cut them out, giving Shakespeare's words a slightly new canvas, while hopefully retaining all of their impact. John Manzelli directs. With Antonio Amadeo, Katherine Amadeo, Ken Clement, Michaela Cronan, Kameshia Duncan, Margie Elias Eisenberg, Aran Graham, David Perez-Ribada, Adam Simpson, and Bechir Sylvain. Brandon K. Thorp Through May 13 at The Pelican Theatre at Barry University, 11300 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores. Call 954-261-1785, or visit www.nakedstage.org.
Golda's Balcony: In terms of steely resolve, Golda Meir made most great people of the Twentieth Century look meek. Over the years, many folks and especially the blame-Israel-first crowd have assumed she was either a heartless ideologue or some kind of blood-sucking Zionist vampire (and then, crazily, certain actual Zionist vampires accused her of wimpiness). In fact she was a tough old broad with a profound emotional commitment to justice and peace, outweighed only by her obsession with survival. William Gibson's Golda's Balcony explores the dark place where those dual allegiances clash. Though it's a one-woman show, Lisa Morgan's portrayal is big enough to summon up the country she fought for, and her wrestling with hard questions of war and capitulation is so anguished that you can almost feel lives winking out of existence when, at length, she makes up her mind. Directed by Joe Adler. by Brandon K. Thorp Through May 20 at GableStage, the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. Call 305-446-1116, or visit www.gablestage.com.