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Datum objave: 03.11.2017

Insights into Otello with Jonas Kaufmann (The Royal Opera)

Join tenor Jonas Kaufmann and conductor Antonio Pappano as they explore Verdi's Otello

Insights into Otello with Jonas Kaufmann (The Royal Opera)

Join tenor Jonas Kaufmann and conductor Antonio Pappano as they explore Verdi's Otello. Find out more at

Otello is Verdi’s final tragedy. After astonishing productivity in his early career, the composer slowed in later life; more than fifteen years separate Otello and its predecessor, Aida, although Verdi revised his earlier works Simon Boccanegra and Don Carlo in the interim. He was lured out of retirement by the composer and librettist Arrigo Boito, who tempted him with a proposal that was very close to Verdi’s heart: Shakespeare’s Othello. Boito adapted the libretto from Shakespeare’s play, with much intervention from Verdi. As the latest utterance from the master of Italian opera, the 1887 premiere was an instant success – but, more than that, Otello has been an important part of the international opera repertory ever since.

The Italian musical landscape had changed during Verdi’s period of isolation, with many of his compatriots finding inspiration in foreign operatic innovations. Verdi responds in Otello with music that looks back to the traditional forms and structures of Italian opera, but which carries an unmistakably different dramatic thrust and fluidity, in response to Shakespeare’s text. The results are thrilling: from the violent storm that opens the opera through to Iago’s blood-chilling Credo and Otello’s increasingly desperate duets with Desdemona. Keith Warner (Wozzeck, Der Ring des Nibelungen) directs a new production of this masterpiece, The Royal Opera’s first in 30 years.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Otello. It was last on stage 21 June—15 July 2017 as part of the Summer 2016/17 season.

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Conductor Antonio Pappano   Otello Jonas Kaufmann   Desdemona Maria Agresta   Iago Marco Vratogna    Cassio  Frédéric Antoun  Roderigo  Thomas Atkins Emilia Kai Rüütel  Montano  Simon Shibambu Lodovico In Sung Sim Herald Thomas Barnard Chorus Royal Opera Chorus Concert Master Vasko Vassilev Orchestra Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

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Otello review – an underpowered Kaufmann is outshone by Iago

But what of Otello himself? Kaufmann has said he wanted to wait until he felt really ready to sing this role. Opera-goers will no doubt debate for some time whether that moment has arrived. In interviews during rehearsals he confessed that his opening Esultate was a challenge in itself, let alone the heavily demanding Ora e per sempre addio sante memorie in Act 2, followed by his duet with Iago, Sì, pel ciel marmoreo giuro. On opening night, Kaufmann negotiated these moments with ease, and yet there was a cloudiness to the voice, even in the lower register where he often excels. And the performance felt constrained, reined back. He looked terrific, every inch the handsome hero, and yet you longed for him to really let rip. At times he was simply overwhelmed by the orchestra – not a problem for the other principals.

Only in the final act did he really seem to settle and his devastation really move us, but for all that it was Iago’s night – not Otello’s.

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