I am a big opera and Verdi fan, and I love Otello. This 1974 film is my favourite film version along with the Zeffirelli 1986 film. With great singers, lavish settings, magnificent music and a legendary conductor, what more can you ask for?Otello has a fine story and compelling characters, not just Otello himself but especially Iago(possibly my favourite villain in a Verdi opera, not only because he is the best-developed character of the opera besides Otello but also because compared to any other "villain" from a Verdi opera, Iago is pretty much one with no redeeming qualities). But as is the case with Verdi the joy is in the music, which is magnificent. Not just Desdemona's Willow Song, Si pel ciel and Esultate, but especially Iago's incredibly chilling Credo.
This film does a splendid job at producing such a fine opera. I have always held Herbert Von Karajan in high regard, and his conducting is remarkable and clearly done with complete dedication. Under his baton, the orchestra produce a great sound that is always appropriate in every scene. The settings and photography are absolutely exquisite. My one small nitpick is that I personally would have preferred a more foreboding setting during Credo in un dio crudel, but overall the film does have beautiful photography, lavish scenery and costumes that don't take you out of the period.
The performances are excellent across the board. Jon Vickers is magnificent as Otello, his booming voice is perfect for the stamina of such a difficult part, and acting-wise he doesn't just play Otello, he becomes him. Mirella Freni is a soprano I absolutely adore, actually I think she is my favourite soprano of all time for her allure and musicality. Here she is everything Desdemona should be, poignant and delicate and vocally she is perfection. The criminally underrated Peter Glossop is a suitably conniving Iago, and does commendably with both the singing and acting.
All in all, one of my favourite Otellos and a must for any opera enthusiast out there. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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