Friday, 22 February 2008


Arriving late in Los Angeles, I missed the first, and best, act of Otello, with its powerful chorus and fight scene, which must have been exciting because of the curved stage floor, built to imitate the decking of ship. The rest of the opera was sung carefully, performed with a bare minimum of action, and never really left port.
Otello is one of the most passionate of operas. But perhaps because their footing was so unsure, none of the singers took advantage of the rich score and all its prompting for broad movement, vocal expression, or intensity. Iago was almost affable, a sort of grinning buddy doing his friend's unpleasant work. Ian Storey as Otello hung his head like a beagle, and lacked the commanding presence his role demands. Desdemona lacked nobility and grace. This is a passionate, bombastic opera, Verdi's masterpiece of men and women caught in a destiny that wrings every bit of soul and hope from their being. At least the orchestra and the chorus understood.

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