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I love opera and I love Verdi. Otello is one of my favourite Verdi operas, not just because of the magnificent music(Esultate, Credo In Un Dio Crudel, Si Pel Ciel and Salce, Salce), but also because of the strongly drawn story and characters.
Once again, this Met production is very good. The costumes and sets aren't the best I've seen from the Met, I wasn't hugely keen on Vickers' during Si Pel Ciel and I would have preferred a setting perhaps a little more foreboding during the Credo. Act 4 however acquitted itself much better. The video directing throughout is excellent.
As is the orchestra playing which sends up a storm literally during Si Pel Ciel and the conducting is suitably enthusiastic which is an achievement seeing as alongside Don Carlo Otello is quite possibly the hardest Verdi opera to conduct.
The performances are very, very good. Cornell MacNeil is credible as Iago, his technique, his voice and the way he uses it is secure and he does sing very well. When it comes to the acting, again it is credible particularly during Si Pel Ciel and the act 3 trio. However the Credo was a little disappointing, sung very well, but for my liking you don't quite see the evil incarnate in Iago like I have seen with Cappuccilli and Milnes for examples.
Jean Kraft is a solid Emilia, likewise James Morris as Ludovico. Cassio is also very good. Jon Vickers, with his booming voice and his outstanding acting(you don't see Vickers, you see Otello when Vickers performs him) is magnificent in the title role, but the person who actually impressed me most was Renata Scotto. She is a riveting actress and has a wonderful voice with great musicality, but the thing about Scotto here is that she goes the extra mile performing Desdemona, she brings musical and dramatic intensity to the performance, something you don't always see.
All in all, very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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