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Otello (2012)

6.4
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In Verdi's masterful adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy, a great warrior discovers the one weapon against which he has no defense-his own jealousy. South African tenor Johan Botha, "... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Johan Botha ...
Zvetelina Vassileva ...
Marco Vratogna ...
Beau Gibson ...
Eric Halfvarson ...
Lodovico
Julien Robbins ...
Montano
Austin Kness ...
A Herald
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Nicola Luisotti ...
Himself - Conducted by
San Francisco Opera Chorus ...
Soldiers / Guest / Cypriots / Venetians
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Storyline

In Verdi's masterful adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy, a great warrior discovers the one weapon against which he has no defense-his own jealousy. South African tenor Johan Botha, "endowed with a bright, ringing sound and enough power to project effortlessly even over a full-strength orchestra" (San Francisco Chronicle), sings the title role. Bulgarian soprano Zvetelina Vassileva in her portrayal of Desdemona, the faithful wife who finds facts are no match for manufactured suspicion, "sings with flawless, rich Italianate sound, and graceful phrasing" (San Francisco Classical Voice). Italian baritone Marco Vratogna gives "an arrestingly dark and charismatic" portrait of the villain Iago, with singing that's "beautifully controlled and dramatically on point" (San Francisco Chronicle). Music Director Nicola Luisotti "seems to have been born to conduct Otello. Through the storms, waves of sound, orchestra and chorus joining in raging passages, he maintains flawless momentum and ... Written by Anonymous

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Drama | Music

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28 February 2012 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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User Reviews

 
Solid
3 August 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I was not sure what to expect from this Otello. The opera has long been one of my favourites, so I always have high expectations. This San Francisco production is a solid one, if not great like 1992, 1996 and 1974 and also the Zeffirelli film(though I know people who dislike it). The costume and set design at first is ideal for a dark and stormy evening and continues to be effective, especially in the lighting(dark in the opening to the blue hue in the final scene) as Iago's manipulation and Otello's increasing torment continues to drive the drama. There are times however where it is too crowded. The orchestra play very well indeed, sending up a storm in Si Pel Ciel as one would expect and the woodwinds are both delicate and forceful. Nicola Luisotti's conducting shows a great deal of attention to musicality, and the chorus are well balanced vocally. The staging does well in showing the anxiety then relief and joy of the chorus, Otello's jealousy and torment, Iago's false friend routine in order to manipulate Otello and Desdemona's innocent poignancy. The singing is mostly fine. Johan Botha sings strongly as Otello, and while I have not always been convinced by his acting I felt he showed the contrast of a powerful leader to a man who shows dark rage at the betrayal by his wife that he was led to believe. Desdemona is played beautifully by Zvetelina Vassileva. I find the vibrato is rather loose on her high notes, but the affecting purity of her interpretation really impresses, and the image of the elegant and flowing white fabric in Act 4 is very striking. As one of the most evil-incarnate villains in all of opera, Marco Vratogna got a mixed reaction from me. The acting is suitably conniving and quite smooth in places, which makes Iago's villainy even more chilling, but I would have preferred a darker and less coarse-sounding voice. Renee Tatum is an attentive Emilia and Eric Halvarson makes much of little as Ludovico despite some somewhat woolly vocals. Beau Gibbons is a vocally stylish if stolid Cassio. All in all, a solid production of one of Verdi's greatest if not one of my favourites. 7/10 Bethany Cox


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