Giuseppe Verdi: Otello [Import]
The Milan Otello traditionally opens the Scala season and did so in 2001 on 7 December, but at the same time it was the farewell production before the start of the three-year renovation of the house and not least a brilliant end to the Verdi Year. The audience as well as the press cheered Barbara Frittoli as a youthfully charming Desdemona, Leo Nucci as cleverly self-controlled Iago and Placido Domingo as a thrilling Otello, both from the dramatic and the singing point of view. Domingo had been the leading Moro di Venezi for a quarter of a century, and in Milan he said farewell to this role "in triumph", according to The Herald Tribune.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The high quality of the performance is apparent from the opening storm scene. La Scala chorus and Muti's conducting are electrifying here. Muti whipped the "storm" into such a frenzy that one fears for the lives of those on the ship. In fact, I have never enjoyed the entire first act more.
Domingo is once again a phenomenal Moor. He sings like a man half of his age! His timber is secure and dark with a ringing top. Nucci is a true Verdian baritone. His Iago is nasty and brutal. Barbara Frittoli is not a submissive, soft, weak, weeping willow Desdemona that has been popularized by the likes of Te Kanawa, Fleming and Freni. This is a woman who challenges social conventions, and is not afraid to die for love.
Graham Vick's stage direction is right on the money. In the scene where Otello hides and eavesdrops on Cassio behind a partition (as in tradition), Vick has Domingo descend the stage which has been lifted up for the purpose. This underscores the subhuman state that jealousy has reduced Otello into. A masterstroke!
The performance is captured in rich color and Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound. I will be playing this DVD again and again for years to come.
Is is better than previous ones? (i.e. Solti's at Covent Garden), well No and definitely not and this for many reasons.
This Otello has been recorded at la Scala in December 2001. To start, La Scala's directions falls far behind Covent Garden's in every aspect. The sets are monotoneous and really boring.
Frittoli's desdemona can't really be compared to Te Kanawa's. Frittoli is really an excellent actress, and also has a nice voice but it just couldn't fit well in here. It is said that her Desdemona at the Met was a success, but it wasn't as good in here.
Nucci's Iago is very nice. He sings like a true Verdian, getting away from all the vulgarity most Iagos follow. With age, he got a darker and darker voice which he uses nicely in this production.
Muti's Otello is one of the most exciting I have ever heard.
And now Domingo, with what has been said his last Otello (at 60 years old). Is he better than he was in Covent Garden about 10 years ago, well definitely not. He sings very quickly at high notes and tries to go slowly most of the time. Is this because of the age, well probably not. It just turned out that during these La Scala performances, he just wasn't at his best. At one performance he had to stop after Ora e per Sempre and excused himself to the audiance, and then had to cancel another performance. Despite all that, his rendition of Otello here is MAJESTIC. He owns the stage. Every "move" is exciting, and despite a rather hard 2nd act, he delivers extremely beautiful 3d and 4th act. His "Niun me Tema" is one of the most beautiful and most sincere in record.
To sum up, if you ever need an Otello on DVD, I would first recommend Domingo at Covent Garden and then at La Scala. Vicker's movie with Karajan has horrible syncro and acting, but very nice musically and some cuts.
The differences lie in the rest of the cast and in the production itself. The overall intensity and dramatic cohesion of the Covent Garden version are not quite met here. Beautiful sets, beautiful costumes (too beautiful?...all the townspeople and soldiers were apparently wealthy) are delicious to look at if somewhat disconcerting given the application of them to all in the cast.
Some of the direction drains tension out of the drama...when comparing it to Covent Garden. The love duet interaction for instance did not make me feel I was witness to an intimate exchange of people in the throes of new-love. Why is it that a director would ever think that a love scene between two lovers would be experienced across the room/stage from one another?
But...the main difference not to the good is Leo Nucci vs. Sergei Lieferkus as Iago. Mr. Nucci is cardboard-ish and his chemistry and sway with Otello not apparent. Lieferkus (the cat) and Domingo were electric. Barbara Frittoli certainly sings and looks well however she did not come across the footlights for me. Kiri Te Kanawa -- while too mature visually -- made me feel her young and aching love, confusion, and fear of (and for)Otello vocally and dramatically. And her voice has a finish on it that is meltingly beautiful.
I was intrigued by the new 3rd act music (new to me). It was beautiful and surprising.
I'm glad (very) I have this La Scala production for Domingo's performance and for this incredible record of what -- when you are Domingo -- 60 looks and sounds like in one of the more demanding operatic roles.
Well worth the price!
Look for similar items by category
- Movies & TV > Drama
- Movies & TV > Music Video & Concerts
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Classical > By Composer > Verdi, Giuseppe
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Classical > By Historical Period > Romantic (c.1820-1910)
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Classical > By Performer > Domingo, Placido
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Opera > By Composer > Verdi, Giuseppe
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Opera > By Performer > Domingo, Placido
- Music > Classical
- Music > Opera & Vocal