[Met Performance] CID:209580

Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, February 27, 1967

Debut : Ermanno Lorenzi

Otello (171)
Giuseppe Verdi | Arrigo Boito
James McCracken

Montserrat Caballé

Tito Gobbi

Shirley Love

Ermanno Lorenzi [Debut]

Raymond Michalski

Russell Christopher

Gabor Carelli

Zubin Mehta

Herbert Graf

Eugene Berman

Mattlyn Gavers

Stage Director
Patrick Tavernia

Otello received thirteen performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of John O'Conner in the Wall Street Journal

The Opera: Long Live "Otello"!

With the possible exception of his "Falstaff," Giuseppe Verdi's "Otello" represents the crowning achievement of 19th century Italian opera. While retaining the essence of the classic form through the use of powerful lyric numbers to distill and move forward the drama, it manages to be musically "continuous" by expertly weaving the technique of "parlante" (speaking) into the score and by subtle use of musical motives and theme repetitions.

In addition, Arrigo Boito provided the composer with a libretto that superbly translated Shakespeare into romantic terms, offering dramatic figures totally understandable to his audience. If the characterizations lose in ambiguity and multifaceted humanity, they gain in directness and consistency.

The Metropolitan Opera's production of "Otello," which, happily, has been returned to the repertory for this season, prompts a good deal of quibbling in that it leaves the impression a bit more effort might have made it magnificent instead of merely good. For instance, its stilted, distracting staging could use the experienced touch of, say, Tyrone Guthrie to better achieve the "naturalistic" effects essential to the opera.

James McCracken in the title role gets off to a slow start, which is unfortunate because of the three principal roles, Otello's is the least dramatically imposing and the singer must take full advantage of every note in the work to firmly establish the character on stage. Mr. McCracken's brief entrance in the [beginning] storm scene, which concisely and imaginatively sets the mood for the evening, was a bit too matter-of-fact. Instead of an exulting, battle-victorious giant, Otello appeared to be more of an overly excitable office executive.

By the end of the evening, however, the tenor was strutting the stage with full vocal and dramatic power, conveying completely the moving tragedy of the Moor of Venice.

Montserrat Caballé's Desdemona comes near perfection in capturing the delicacy and also the strength the heroine assumes in the operatic version of the work. The Spanish soprano's rendering of the "Willow Song" in the final act's bedroom scene is a beautifully affecting highlight of this production, and even managed to quiet the coughing and sneezing that raged through a frighteningly large part of the audience the other evening.

The role of Iago of course, is the "meatiest" in the opera. In the expert hands of Tito Gobbi, the role was splendidly acted and expertly sung, with the famous "Credo," the ironically beautiful hymn to pure evil, emerging with all of its inherent power intact.

Verdi composed "Otello" at the age of 74, utilizing totally the genius of his craft. While epitomizing the best of a 19th century form, 20th century audiences can only be grateful for this legacy of a practically flawless jewel.

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