“Otello” beautifully closes up the opera season at The Canadian Opera Company with Verdi’s blistering adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. “Otello” is brimming with drama, darkness, rainy nights and fiery blazes.
Otello is quite the fellow – a professional military man, full of pride and a beaming husband to Desdemona. Retaliation follows as he receives a promotion over his friend, lago. lago’s jealousy takes a malicious turn and leads Otello down a destructive path.
American tenor Russell Thomas returns to the COC as Otello. The San Francisco Classical Voice calling him a “heroically-scaled tenor” with a voice that is a “tower of strength.” Thomas destroys the audience with a strength that runs deep with emotion and stoic in vulnerably. Distinguished Canadian baritone, Gerald Finley is the villainous lago; his manipulative streak and epic moments of contempt makes one’s heart race. Soprano, Tamara Wilson is Otello’s wife, Desdemona. Wilson provides the audience with a moving texture that is unrivaled in this performance. Canadian tenor and Ensemble Studio graduate Andrew Haji illustrates to the audience a complexity that is befitting his role of young lieutenant Cassio.
As per the Canadian Opera Company’s production notes, “the story’s setting has been moved to a crumbling Mediterranean garrison, in the early 20th century. In keeping with the spirit of Verdi’s original creation, the production takes a largely psychological approach, zeroing in on Otello’s inner turmoil over the external influence of other people and circumstance.” The staging creates an atmosphere that resembles the coldest and damp of Canadian Fall days. The Acts are full of uncertainty, questioning and wondering of what is to come. The ambiance of death, dying and a unsettled earth was felt throughout the performance. Grounding is felt in the singular flames rooted into the ground and scenes of a burgeoning dawn that demonstrates an element of hope to the audience.
COC Music Director Johannes Debus leads the COC Orchestra through what is known as one of Verdi’s most daring and complex orchestrations. Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst leads the COC Chorus.
Ensure to make a cool date with “Otello” before the opera season comes to a close in May.
Otello is sung in Italian and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.
This production was originally created as a co-production between English National Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, and Teatro Real Madrid.