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Friday, November 30, 2018

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Otello

Gustavo Dudamel makes his Met debut. There's singing, too.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Baritone Željko Lučic returns as the evil Iago from Verdi's Otello.
Photo © 2015 The Metropolitan Opera.
Verdi's tragedy returns to the Met stage for a short run of performances. This is the first revival of the Met's 2015 production of Verdi's opera. Otello is one of the hottest tickets of the early winter, mostly because of who's conducting....

What is Otello?
Verdi surprised the world with Otello when he was 73 years old, breaking the 15-year silence that followed the premiere of Aida. The opera is one of his most brilliant, complicated works, recasting Shakespeare's drama as a four act Italian opera of stunning virtuosity and tragic weight.

What is Otello about?
Otello opens with a series of thunderous, crashing chords and a hero who is on top of the world in his command of the Venetian military forces on the tiny island of Cyprus. Things go from good to bad, to worse as his mind is slowly poisoned by his ensign Iago and he becomes convinced that his wife Desdemona  is having an extramarital affair. The opera ends with the hero broken, commiting first murder and then suicide.

Tell me something else interesting?
Verdi's librettist Arrigo Boito (also the composer of Mefistofele) condensed Shakespeare's text, while remaining (mostly) faithful to it. Verdi's music was written with equal density and concision, amplifying the emotions of the original work and making Otello's fall into jealousy, madness, murder and suicide one of epic scale.

What's the music like?st
Verdi wrote here in a dense and contrapuntal style, making masterful use of the orchestra and placing great demands on the singers. There are no set pieces and very few moments that can be called a proper aria but the memorable musical moments are there throughout the work.

Who's in it?
Stuart Skelton takes on the toughest tenor role in Italian opera opposite Sonya Yoncheva and Željko Lučić: the artists who sang  Desdemona and Iago (respectively) when this production bowed. However the big star here is in the pit as conductor Gustavo Dudamel makes his Met debut.

When does Otello open?
Otello returns on Dec. 14.

Is there a Live in HD broadcast planned?
You would think we would be so lucky? But no. There is no broadcast planned. Go see it.

Where do I get tickets?>
Tickets are available through MetOpera.Org or by calling the box office at (212) 362-6000. You can save some money on service fees by going to the box office in person at the Met itself, located at 30 Lincoln Center Plaza.

Box office hours are: Monday to Saturday: 10am-8pm, Sunday: 12pm-6pm.

Which recordings do you recommend?

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats