Directed by the Tony Award winning and six time MET director, Bartlett Sher, this lavish production of Verdi's operatic masterpiece Otello features one of the most exciting young opera singers of her generation, Sonya Yoncheva, and the Metropolitan Opera & Chorus, conducted by their new director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Verdi's late masterpiece is presented in Elijah Mashinsky's Met production with sumptuous sets and period costumes. Semyon Bychkov conducts an all-star cast led by South African Heldentenor Johan Botha in the title role with a voice of "impressive size and bronze color" (New York Times). Renee Fleming's Desdemona enshrines one of her signature roles in a definitive performance "she knows exactly how to spin the gentle lines of the "Willow Song" and "Ave Maria" so that they softly fill the hall" (New York Times). A strong supporting cast includes the superb Falk Struckmann as Iago and star tenor Michael Fabiano as Cassio.
In honor of the Tito Gobbi centenary (in 2013), the Associazione Musicale Tito Gobbi has unearthed and released this Otello, performed in the courtyard of the Doge's Palace in Venice, in August 1966. While technical challenges involved in broadcasting a production back in the '60s, from a venue not designed for theater, caused occasional problems involving camera work and sound, the resulting black-and-white video is well worth having, particularly for Gobbi's brilliant Iago. Although an earlier Gobbi Iago is available from VAI, filmed in Japan in 1959 opposite Mario Del Monaco's titanic Moor, this later document finds the extraordinary baritone no less nimble physically and vocally. In fact, the vastness of the performing area and the evocative atmosphere of the Palazzo Ducale seem to draw from Gobbi a sort of ownership of the environment that is perfect for Iago, as he darts about controlling events like a sardonic puppeteer. And, as one recalls from performances at the Met six months after this one, Gobbi was able to imbue the character with a youthful, amicable persona that made Iago's vile deeds all the more chilling. This video also confirms the recollection that this role, even in late career, was one the great singing actor found vocally congenial. There is a lightness of delivery that makes Iago's Act I drinking song and Act III duet with Cassio particularly stunning. Textual and tonal colors are employed in a manner that feels inevitable rather than applied, and Iago's "Credo" might as well have been written for Gobbi, so perfectly does it suit his gifts. All in all, this is a dazzling performance.
A dream team had been assembled at London’s Royal Opera House for this 1992 performance of Verdi’s Otello. Placido Domingo, uninhibited in the use of his vast vocal power, was the commanding Otello; Kiri Te Kanawa a more sturdy Desdemona than the fragile female often portrayed, while Sergei Leiferkus’s Iago is totally convincing by avoiding those sneering gestures that are too often seen. In the pit was Georg Solti whipping the orchestra into a fury as the opening storm is unleashed, but later on can show some impatience in his choice of tempos. The production was, in the best use of the term, ‘traditional’ and came from Elijah Moshinsky, his set designer, Timothy O’Brian, creating a massive edifice that has to serve all of four acts, leaving the final bedroom scene working in an area that is too large.
Herbert von Karajan directed this film of Verdi's Shakespearean masterpiece as well as conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. As the tragic Moor of Venice, arguably his greatest role, Jon Vickers (in the words of critic David Cairns) "commands both the notes and the moral grandeur of the part… And he has the aura of greatness - greatness of heart, of bearing, of musical and dramatic conception". Mirella Freni is a heartbreakingly lovely and fragile Desdemona, while the fine English baritone Peter Glossop plays the villainous Jago.
The MET’s production of Verdi’s Otello from 1995, with Plácido Domingo in one of his greatest roles opposite the stunning Renée Fleming in her first breakaway Met success.
Here is a deeply impressive account of Verdi’s final tragedy…Domingo…is every inch the Venetian general. Can anyone have matched his heroic delivery, his frightening mien when deluded or his devastation when the truth is revealed? Every part of his face and body seems involved in this arresting portrayal, more searing even than his other Otellos in sound or on film.
The first of Verdi's two late Shakespearian operas stands as one of the great masterpieces of grand opera. José Cura, ranked among the world's leading interpreters of Verdi's music, takes the title role in Willy Decker's profound and intense production, recorded live at the Liceu, Barcelona in 2006 in true surround sound and filmed with high definition cameras.