[Met Performance] CID:228890

New Production

Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, March 25, 1972

Debut : Peter J. Hall

Otello (184)
Giuseppe Verdi | Arrigo Boito
James McCracken

Teresa Zylis-Gara

Sherrill Milnes

Shirley Love

Enrico Di Giuseppe

Paul Plishka

Robert Goodloe

Andrea Velis

Raymond Gibbs

Karl Böhm

Franco Zeffirelli

Costume Designer
Peter J. Hall [Debut]

Otello received seventeen performances this season.

Production a gift of the late Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Review 1:

Review of Roger Wetherington in the Daily News

Zeffirelli The Villain In Staging New 'Otello'

The Metropolitan Opera assembled such an abundance of talent for its new "Otello" the other night that the company seemed assured of scoring a spectacular success. But it didn't happen.

The man to blame is Franco Zeffirelli, the often-brilliant director, who couldn't resist trying to improve Verdi's masterpiece. The result was virtual sacrilege. The new production featured all sorts of touches that were mostly anti-climactic, pointless or silly.

Iago did not end his famous "Credo" with sardonic laughter. Instead, he crept off stage in silent terror, apparently fearing some kind of divine retribution. At the end of Act III, he made a move to strangle the unconscious Otello, but his courage failed him. In Act IV, he attacked Emilia and presumably killed her.

With that kind of thing going on, the cast was understandably encouraged to emphasize the opera's melodramatic elements, and it did. At one time or another virtually everybody on stage managed to overact.

But there was also much good in the production unveiled Saturday night before an enthusiastic audience. Zeffirelli designed fine, atmospheric sets suggesting a dusty, Gothic-style castle. Fine costumes were provided by Peter Hall. They were exquisite in the third act.

James McCracken, the greatest Otello of the generation, sang magnificently with violent, volcanic eruptions of rich tone, but he sometimes overplayed. Sherrill Milnes as Iago, went even further and verged on hamminess. Although he has a glorious baritone voice, he has not yet achieved dramatic mastery of this part.

Teresa Zylis-Gara does not have a supple voice, but she was as appealing Desdemona in the final two acts. Her willow song was beautiful. Shirley Love had

too little vocal weight for the role of Emilia.

Karl Boehm conducted vigorously - too much so. Although he played up dramatic points well, he too often overwhelmed the singers. The orchestra dominated the proceedings as it never should - not in Wagner, much less in Verdi.

Sturdy support was provided by Andrea Velis, Paul Plishka and Enrico DiGiuseppe, who had sung the lead role in Donizetti's "Fille du Regiment" at the Met matinee performance earlier in the day.

Photographs of James McCracken and Teresa Zylis-Gara in Otello by Louis Mélançon.

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