Verdi: Otello (Met DVD) – Jon Vickers, Renata Scotto

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Verdi: Otello (Met DVD) – Jon Vickers, Renata Scotto

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Artists: Jon Vickers, Renata Scotto, Cornell MacNeil, Andrea Velis, Raymond Gibbs, Jean Kraft, Robert Goodloe, James Morris, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Conductor: James Levine
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Format: NTSC
Language: Italian
Subtitles: English
Region: All Regions
Number of Discs: 1
Studio: Metropolitan Opera
DVD Release Date: 2009
Run Time: 144 minutes

In this unforgettable live Met broadcast of Franco Zeffirelli’s 1978 production, Jon Vickers brings his remarkable vocal power and dramatic intensity to Verdi’s masterful Shakespeare adaptation. His Desdemona is Renata Scotto, at the height of her powers, and Cornell MacNeil’s menacing Iago is one of the baritone’s greatest roles.

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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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As a long time fan of Jon Vickers, I love this Otello more than any of the others. His torment is shattering even when his voice and characterization is great. I wish we had more of Jon Vickers' performances on DVD. Greatest tenor ever.

Debboe, September 2020
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