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Italian opera conductor Tullio Serafin enjoyed a long career and an extensive repertoire. He became particularly known for his revival of 19th century bel canto operas, as well as being an authority on composers such as Bellini, Donizetti, and, as this recording proves, Verdi. This release is a 1960 recording of Serafin conducting Verdi’s Otello in Rome.
Based on Shakespeare’s play Othello, this work was Verdi’s penultimate opera. The four act work is set to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito.
This particular recording by RCA was deemed by BBC Music Magazine as the “preferred version and benchmark recording” of the work.” “No conductor is more understanding of Verdian pacing than Serafin…” (The Penguin Guide)
Giuseppe Verdi’s four-act opera, Otello, based on Shakespeare’s Othello, is set in the late 15th century on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
Otello is the 25th title of the 26 operas, which were composed by Verdi. He was 74 years old when he wrote it (1884-1886).
The story adheres closely to the Bard’s play. Otello, an African Moor and general in the Venetian army returns home to a plot of deception created by his subordinate, Iago, which goes awry and leads Otello into a fit of rage resulting in his murder of Desdemoda, his beloved wife. Otello falls on his dagger in despair at what he has done in the final scene, which is an oft-studied subject in literature, opera and psychology.
Before she dies in Act 3, Desdemona sings two well-known arias, “Willow Song” and “Ave Maria.”
In the Met’s 2018/2019 season, modern architectural sets were used to create a contemporary feeling, appropriate for a story, which rings as true today as it did in the 15th century.
World premiere in Teatro alla Scala, Milan, February 5, 1887
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