Met Opera presents ‘Otello’ in Breckenridge
Special to the Daily
IF YOU GO
What: Metropolitan Opera HD Broadcast presents Giuseppi Verdi’s “Otello”
When: Saturday, Oct. 17 at 10:55 a.m
Where: Colorado Mountain College, Finkel Auditorium, 107 Denison Placer Road, Breckenridge
Tickets: Student $10 / Senior (65+) $16 / Adult $20
More information: www.nromusic.com or 970.453.5825
The Metropolitan Opera HD Broadcast presents Giuseppi Verdi’s “Otello,” Saturday, Oct. 17 at 10:55 a.m. at the Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. Those familiar with Shakespeare’s tragedy, written in the year 1603 and based on the 1565 short story “Un Capitano Moro” (“A Moorish Captain”) by Cinthio, will judge Verdi’s ability.
The performance revolves around four central characters: Otello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army, his beloved wife, Desdemona; his loyal lieutenant, Cassio; and his trusted but unfaithful ensign, Iago. The stage director, Bartlett Sher, has set the scene in the late 19th century, a departure from its written era yet, according to Sher, has “epic grandeur including towering walls of glass that shift and interlink.”
In a recent review of the September opening performance, the staging was described as a “bunch of translucent boxy units, with drawn-on architectural details, that kept shifting restlessly across the stage.” Catherine Zuber, the costume designer, outfitted the characters in 19th-century uniforms and gowns. In the second half of the performance, color has returned and the stage set stands still, and, according to this review, “everything becomes dramatically and cinematically clear.”
Perhaps in recognition of on-going financial shortfall, the Met has also been described as dispensing with the time-honored tradition of hiring well-known stars. Yet, for most of us in the audience, the singing and acting of those in the title roles will be considered first-rate. The Latvian tenor, Aleksandrs Antonenko, will play Otello. His singing has been described as “dramatic in color and passion,” certainly with tenderness in his love duet with Desdemona.
Bulgarian soprano, Sonya Yoncheva, just 33, is poised for a major career, and this performance of Desdemona is sung with “a texture of a young girl full of love, passion and spirit.” Otello’s ensign, Iago, performed by baritone Zeljko Lucic, portrays a man warped by hatred and envy. Tenor Dimitri Pittas sings the role of Cassio. These are not the names of house-hold performers but have been given high acclaim in current reviews of the opening performance.
This production had already made news when the Met announced that, breaking with past practice, it would cease to apply any kind of blackface to Otello. Representations of the background of the “Moor” in history have been vague and even inconsistent and contradictory. The use of darkening makeup to suggest a character’s race has long seemed obsolete and currently considered by the Met as being insensitive.
The plot involves the ongoing struggle of the four characters. Iago plays an important role in reflecting an archetypal villain who manipulates all other characters at will. He controls their movements and traps them in an intricate net of lies. He plays on their weaknesses, who still consider him as “honest Iago,” furthering his control over them. Unfortunately, in the end, Otello kills his wife, Desdemona, who he considers unfaithful, before taking his own life.
Working through the tragedy on stage, the ever fluid Met orchestra, in this production conducted by Yannick Nezet-Sequin, music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, executes a compelling and sensitive reading of Verdi’s score with beautiful music that never loses its focus on the emotional arc of the story.
Light snacks and beverages will be served during the single intermission.
The Met Opera is a partnership between Colorado Mountain College and the National Repertory Orchestra. Elmer Koneman is a volunteer and opera enthusiast; Cecile Forsberg is the artistic and operations director with the NRO.
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