[Met Performance] CID:231770

Metropolitan Opera House, Tue, December 5, 1972

Otello (201)
Giuseppe Verdi | Arrigo Boito
Jon Vickers

Teresa Zylis-Gara

Louis Quilico

Jean Kraft

Leo Goeke

Raymond Michalski

Robert Goodloe

Andrea Velis

Gene Boucher

James Levine

Franco Zeffirelli

Costume Designer
Peter J. Hall

Stage Director
Fabrizio Melano

Otello received twelve performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Harold C. Schonberg in The New York Times


"Otello" by Giuseppe Verdi, one of the wonders of the lyric stage, and the last superspectacular production of Rudolf Bing's last season, returned to the Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday night. With one major exception the cast was familiar, but the exception was Louis Quilico in the all-important role of Iago. As Jon Vickers sang the title role, that made two Canadians in the cast, a fact duly noted by the Canadian press, which came to New York in large numbers.

The conductor also was new. James Levine was in the pit. He is the young man who is going to be very important next season, working closely with Rafael Kubelik, the Metropolitan's music director.

His obvious talent has previously been made clear. But this was his most important assignment to date, and naturally there was speculation about his ability to carry through an "Otello." So the rotund Mr. Levine made his appearance and brought down his baton and it was immediately apparent that we were going to be in for an exuberant evening.

Exuberant it was, though not always refined. Mr. Levine has strong ideas about the score, and he wanted to achieve its mixture of strength and brooding lyricism. What with a good deal of propulsion, and emphasis on the upper end of the dynamic spectrum and a great deal of natural personality, he did achieve some impressive things.

Where he as yet has a bit to learn showed in his balances. Often, he sheerly overwhelmed the singers by letting the brass dominate. It as good to hear the orchestra come to the fore, because too many conductors are content to accompany rather than participate. That way results in a namby-pamby performance. But at the same time a conductor has to give his singers a chance to come trough without shrieking.

It was in the last act that Mr. Levine settled down to his most impressive work. Having got the fortissimos out of his system, he shaped the death scene with real sensitivity, and the orchestra responded with some beautiful playing.

The new Iago revealed no surprises. In his previous work around town, Mr. Quilico has shown himself to be an imposing vocalist with an imposing presence. His is a big, well-trained voice - not sensuous in sound, but secure, reliable, and capable of impressive bursts of sound. He was a little handicapped by his costume. Men of his girth are not flattered by doublets, and he looked more Falstaffian than evil, "like a tea cozy," murmured a woman in the audience.

As an actor, Mr. Quilico still has many mannerisms of the old school - outstretched arms, legs permanently locked at the kneecaps. He went through the role in well-routined manner, but was scarcely a malevolent or dramatically exciting Iago. The staging, incidentally, has been improved in one or two spots, especially at the end of Act III. Now Iago no longer scuttles away in terror when the prone Otello moves. Instead he stalks to the rear and gazes upon the body.

Mr. Vickers sounded a bit tired - not surprising considering all the Wagner he has been singing this season. He still is one of the two great Otellos of our period. And with his big voice he remains and artistic singer. His work in the last act was unusually touching and believable. Teresa Zylis-Gara once again used her creamy voice to beautiful effect. The Cassio, Leo Goeke, was new to the part, and he sang it with a fine, clear voice.

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