Compelling tragedies: Otello


Opening night of Verdi's Otello at the Royal Opera House was a thrilling affair. Passion, rage and jealousy explode from this piece from the start. Conductor Antonio Pappano makes the most of both the drama and tenderness of the piece as it ebbs and flows. One moment of intensity and emotion gives way to another so delicate and light.

Aleksandrs Antonenko is terrific in the title role as the doomed hero and strikes the right balance and tone between tenderness and fury that makes the drama coherent and believable. There was some fine music making between him and Anja Harteros, who plays Desmemona his wife, as they move from a delicate love duet towards a darker sinister end. It is hard to believe that within two hours they sing about love and then damnation, but here they are complimentary.

Lucio Gallo was sublime as the evil Iago who orchestrates it all. At the curtain it was hard to tell whether cheering or hissing at his evil brilliance would have been more appropriate. Of course being an opera and not panto one did plump for the former.

The production is wonderful and elegant with its renaissance inspired set. With beautiful music and fast-paced drama, it adds up to a night to remember at the opera. It is possibly more fun than Shakespeare's original; even if it does all end in tears...

Otello is part of the World Shakespeare Festival which itself is part of the London 2012 Festival. The latter has seen slightly more unmissable events than a normal London summer embarrassment of cultural riches. It runs until 24 July... And is sold out so you will have to conspire to get tickets... Or alternatively live vicariously through the social media raves...

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