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Othello in Venezia


OTHELLO

Review by Henning Høholt

Teatro La Fenice
Conductor: Myung-Whun Chung
opera in four acts, 
libretto by Arrigo Boito 
from Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello 
music of Giuseppe Verdi 

VENICE:  La Fenice in Venice  still gleaming from its comprehensive restoration nearly a decade ago after it burned down in suspicious circumstances in 1996. The smart idea this year is to present as the first two operas of its season: Othello and Tristan und Isolde, who are not just two of the greatest works by the twin giants of 19th-century opera, Verdi and Wagner, who both are about to be the centre of bicentenary celebrations, they both also have Venetian connections.

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Richard Wagner wrote the second act of Tristan while living in Venice, and died in the city, while Giuseppe Verdi´s Othellois set against the background of the Venetian republic’s struggles against the Ottoman empire. Premiered in Milan, Teatro alla Scala, February 5, 1887.
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Both performances are representative for the great opera house, traditional in a way, I do prefer with operas from this period, not spoiled by any new hot spot ideas. However Othello is renewed in the way that it is moved to a much later period than it is usually performed.It is mostly  noticed by the costumes/uniforms for the chorus and male soloists. Of the ladies, Desdemona  is cloyhed in beautiful, elegant dresses, and her maid Emilia  according to her position, but still elegant.I liked the gimmicky ideas by director Francesco Micheliin his staging of Otello.
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The hatred and jealousy demons that spur on Iago and Otello are on stage they are not just in their minds, dressed in black, stabbing and clutching their victims. In the opening scene the chorus see  a life-size ship  on which  Otello is returning, and later the chorus have the same model ships but in red.  It was a first  for me to see ships on the stage in Otello, much to my pleasure.
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The minor religious theme in the opera was however not in model size. It was symbolized by a giant statue of the Virgin Mary, first carried around in a procession, and later placed in the bedroom of  Desdemona.
We enjoyed the cast headed by Walter Fraccaro brilliant as Otello.  Dimitri Platanias was outstanding, a suave and dapper manipulator of Otello as Iago, – an impressive voice. Desdemona was beautifully sung and truthfully  performed by Carmela Remigio, she has it all.  Cassio with a beautiful tenor voice, with the right Italian sound – Francesco Marseille. 
Characters and performers: 
Othello: Walter Fraccaro. Jago: Dimitri Platanias. Cassius – Francesco Marseille. Roderigo – Antonello Ceron.  Lodovico – Mattia Teeth Mountain – Matthew Ferrara.  A herald: Giampaolo Baldin. Desdemona: Carmela Remigio. Emilia – Elisabetta Martorana. 
Conductor Myung-Whun Chung. directed by Francesco Micheli. scenes Edoardo Sanchi. costumes Silvia Aymonino. choirmaster Claudio Marino Moretti. master of the choir Diana D’Alessio. Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice, Venice Boys Choir. 
New production Fondazione Teatro La Fenice on the bicentenary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi Teatro La Fenice is an opera house in Venice, Italy. It is one of the most famous theatres in Europe, the site of many famous operatic premieres. It will return back at the programme for a new short periode in May, and it is a cooproduction with Opera di Verona.
Please enjoy other Othello reviews and presentations at:
Toulon: http://www.kulturkompasset.com/2012/05/otello-at-toulon/
Kristian Benedikt singing Othello: http://www.kulturkompasset.com/2011/11/outstanding-kristian-benedikt-gala-in-vilnius/
Verdi par Gatti: http://www.kulturkompasset.com/2011/12/verdi-par-gatti-in-paris/
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