Those who attended the New York Metropolitan Opera's HD broadcast performance of the lilting, highly melodic and comedic "Elixir of Love" by Donizetti may find the two week interlude a bit short to make the transition to Saturday's production of Verdi's "Otello," which is based on Shakespeare's tragic tale of jealousy and conspiracy. Yet, the soaring melodies of Verdi's composition, the vocal intonations and stage actions of the main characters and the blending of the chorus with brilliant orchestral support under the baton of Semyon Bychkov do not disappoint. In one of her most celebrated parts, Rene Fleming sings and acts the role of Desdemona, wife of the Moor Otello, governor of the Island of Cyprus. In a recent New York Times review, Fleming's performance is described as "sublime," and the skill with which she knows "exactly how to spin the gentle lines of the 'Willow Song' and 'Ave Maria' so that they so softly fill the hall" is acknowledged. South African tenor, Johan Botha, sings and acts the title role of Otello, one of the most demanding parts in the operatic repertoire. Botha's opening performance received mixed reviews. His towering size is set in contrast to Flemming's petite and bright demeanor; yet, his voice is a brilliant clarion tenor. Baritone Falk Struckmann sings the role of the treacherous villain Iago, and rising American tenor, Michael Fabiano, makes his Metropolitan Opera Live in HD debut as Cassio. The storyline involves an initial military victory, followed by conspiracy, false accusations and tragedy. Otello, a black Moor and brave soldier, is elevated to the rank of general for successfully winning the 15th-century Venetian wars against the Turks. His high esteem results in a secret marriage to Desdemona, the daughter of a powerful local senator. Otello then promotes Cassio, a young soldier, to chief lieutenant, much to the disdain of the crafty, villainous Iago, who vows vengeance on both Otello and Cassio. Through a series of false accusations, Iago convinces Otello that Desdemona has been unfaithful by having an affair with Cassio. The final act is the bedroom scene, where a distraught Otello commits an unspeakable act with far-reaching repercussions.Otello is considered Verdi's towering achievement. His profound musical insights into Shakespeare's stageplay illuminate the hero's tragic journey. This Metropolitan Opera simulcast comes to the Eileen & Paul Finkel Auditorium at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge courtesy of CMC and the National Repertory Orchestra. Light snacks will be served during intermission, and an open discussion on the opera's 21st century relevance concludes the program.
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