Wednesday, October 11, 2000 20:00
Opera in Four Acts
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Arrigo Boito based on the drama
of the same name by William Shakespeare
Otello Ion Tudoroiu (Tenor)
Desdemona OIaga Makarina (Soprano)
Iago Paolo Coni (Baritone)
Cassio Barton Green (Tenor)
Lodovico Brian Jauhiainen (Bass)
Emilia Liang Ning (Mezzo-soprano)
Roderigo Li Chujian (Tenor)
Montano Tian Hao (Bass)
A Herald Wang Xupeng (Bass)
Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of the Central Opera
Theatre of China
Conductor Eve Queler
Chorus Master Italo Marchini
Musical Coach Enza Ferrari
Assistant Conductor Gao Weichun
Chorus Master • Musical Coach Jiemi Zhang
Production Elijah Moshinsky
Stage Director Henry G. Akina
Set Designer Tim O’Brien
Lighting Designer Robert Bryan
Production • Tour Manager Ted Pursey
Stage Manager Fátima Beirão, Li Ding, Luca Pellizzaroli
Wardrobe Officer Corrine Jones-Lord
Make up Ren Xiaoqiu
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, England
Otello is a magnificent opera composed by Verdi in his late period. It is a brilliant achievement of his continuation and development of the Italian national opera and his operatic reform. This work represents the unity of perfect form and profound ideas and has a great artistic power. Since the first appearance of this opera, it has been performed many times on the stage, but each performance can still fill the audience with new feelings and leave them with a deep impression.
Otello: The Story
The setting in Cyprus in the mid-sixteenth century, when the island was under the rule of the Republic of Venice. Otello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army, was the governor. He had recently promoted Cassio as captain. For that, his ensign Iago hates him bitterly while pretending to be loyal and honest, Roderigo, a Venetian gentleman who nurtured a secret love for Otello’s wife Desdemona, had followed her to Cyprus. The opera begins with a raging storm at night.
Otello returns from battle and his ship arrives as the tempest subsides. He is greeted by a cheering crowd as he announces his victory over the Turks. Iago sets out to plot his vengeance by making Cassio drunk and inciting Roderigo to proboke a brawl, in which a senior officer, Montano, was wounded. Otello at once restores peace and in his anger dismisses Cassio. Left alone, Otello and Desdemona tenderly recall their courtship in a profound expression of love and happiness.
Iago advises Cassio to seek Desdemona’s help in regaining Otello’s favour. Then, alone, he proclaims his belief in a cruel god of evil who inspires his hatred and malignity. With Otello, Iago succeeds in arousing his suspicions of Desdemona’s faithfulness with casual hints of her intimate relationship with Cassio. When indeed Desdemona comes to plead for Cassio’s pardon, Otello becomes distraught. Fearing he is ill, she tries to soothe his brow with the handkerchief which is his first gift of love. This he throws to the groud and is picked up by Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s lady-in-waiting. From Emilia’s hand, Iago snatches that handkerchief away. Otello orders the women to leave, and Iago poisons his mind further by describing how he heard Cassio call Desdemona’s name in his dream and saw her handkerchief in his hand. Frantic with rage, Otello swears revenge.
Iago assures Otello of more proof of Desdemona’s guilt and leaves as he sees her approaching. When Otello demands the handkerchief, Desdemona again pleads for Cassio’s reinstatement. He calls her a courtesan and forces her out. Alone, Otello bewails his misery. He hides as Iago returns with Cassio engaged in a light-hearted conversation. Eavesdropping at a distance, Otello believes Cassio to be talking about Desdemona. Iago cleverly flashes her handkerchief for him to see. Thereupon Otello resolves to kill his wife that night. The ambassador Lodovico arrives to announce the ruling Council’s decision to recall Otello to Venice and the appointment of Cassio as the new governor. Otello loses control and strikes Desdemona. Having rudely dismissed the courtiers, he collapses in fit.
Desdemona sings the willow song, about a forsaken maiden. She bids Emilia good night, says her prayers and retires to bed. Otello comes in, and his kiss awakens her. Without hearing her protestations of innocence, he suffocates her. Emilia knocks and cries for help. Before Lodovico, Casio and others, she reveals Iago’s treachery. Otello realizes his tragedy and stabs himself, dying upon one final kiss on the chaste Desdemona.