Verdi: Otello (2-CD) – Nikolai Schukoff, Melody Moore, Lester Lynch

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Verdi: Otello (2-CD) – Nikolai Schukoff, Melody Moore, Lester Lynch

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Artists: Nikolai Schukoff, Melody Moore, Lester Lynch, JunHo You, Carlos Cardosa, Kevin Short, Luis Rodrigues, Helena Zubanovich, Leandro César, Gulbenkian Orchestra & Chorus
Conductor: Lawrence Foster
Number of Discs: 2
Label: Pentatone
CD Release Date: November 17, 2017

The opera Otello by Giuseppe Verdi and Arrigo Boito not only represents the outstanding result of an intensely fruitful creative collaboration between composer and librettist, but also one of the most important core works ever in the opera repertoire. With his musical setting of Shakespeare’s play, Verdi also achieved a new level of quality within the framework of his operatic oeuvre. His path led him away from structured numbers of arias, recitatives and ensembles, and towards the through-composed, large-scale dramatic form, yet without taking a leaf from Wagner’s book.

This drama is supported by music that, especially in the depths of the orchestral scoring, subtly penetrates the psyche of the characters without ruthlessly dissecting them. Music that, despite its magic and refined tones, never brushes aside the greatest priority of the Italian opera: the human voice. In Otello, Verdi succeeded in creating his own path leading to music-drama as a Gesamtkunstwerk, as a perfect synthesis between action and music.

First and foremost, Melody Moore, who is one of the most promising American singers of her generation, demonstrates that her truly youthful dramatic soprano voice is able to continue flawlessly the pure Italian tradition of a Renata Tebaldi. The Austrian tenor Nikolai Schukoff once again widens his professional range, singing the demanding title role of Otello with ardent intensity – for the first time, by the way, in the production at hand. As his abysmally evil opponent, the American baritone Lester Lynch matches him in vocal intensity.



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History

Otello

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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