Verdi's Otello, directed by Robert Larsen, was wonderful last night. I'd never heard this opera before (shame, shame on me), and I'm so glad we chose this over the other two (Carmen and Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream). The DMMO chorus was fantastic and sung with a lot of power. Iago is a truly evil character...it's also kind of funny how he sings about how evil he is. I don't know Shakespeare's Othello--does he have soliloquies about being evil? Absolutely no conscience. Anyway, the singer, Todd Thomas, had an excellent performance. His voice was wonderful, but he could have been more evil, in my opinion. By the way, is it appropriate/common to boo the evil character when the singer comes out for his curtain call? He was fantastic and enthusiastically booed. I don't get it. Otello, played by Allan Glassman, played the role perfectly. I know it's opera, but that storyline. Come on. That Otello would be so suspicious of his wife immediately. And why did Cassio kill Roderigo? It was like an after-thought in the plot. Dave really liked Cassio, played by Marc Schreiner. I thought he was out-sung by the other cast members. Best performance of the night went to Dana Beth Miller as Desdemona. She may not look so innocent in her bio picture (opera eyes!), but she was angelic in her role. She had the most powerful voice (high notes were bang on), and she was utterly convincing throughout the performance.
The orchestra sung out. I didn't realize the pit in that theatre was so big! The strings were great, although the basses were completely out of tune in their tutti (fourth act?). Dave and I cringed a bit. The brass section was generally very good. We sat right behind the horns (theatre is U-shaped), and they were great! The woodwinds all shone. I only knew a couple of the names in the program, and I was suprised to see no mention of an English hornist. Even if it's doubled in one of the parts, you will usually see "Oboes: Joe and Sue; English horn: Sue" I would love to give kudos to both of them (not named Joe or Sue) on their performance. What a difficult score!! I'd seen the English horn solo (which opens and predominates the fourth act) on audition lists, but I've never played it. It has a huge range and demands a lot of the player in terms of breath control, low note attacks, high note clarity and power, and dynamic range. Whoever played last night nailed it--congratulations!
The next time we go to an opera in this theatre (expensive tickets for a summer festival, but it's worth it to see rising stars in the opera world and a high-quality performance--we'll try to go to at least one every year), I think we'll pay a little more to get better seats. And maybe buy our tickets more than two weeks ahead of time. The only two seats together were in the second row on the very end of one side of a U. Imagine the pit a third of the way down the U (from its open end), and the stage at the (open) end of the U. The stage also extended over the pit (on the sides) and right down to the (closed) other end of the U. We had a good view of that end. We were directly facing the orchestra, and since the on-stage scenery was so elaborate, with Roman columns and trellised gardens, our view was obstructed at times. The biggest pain was in our necks. The supertitles were directly up--we were practically sitting underneath them. I made the effort, but Dave said that even if he could strain his neck that way, it was at such a funny angle to us that the words were too blurry for him to read. I heard the Met has individual libretto screens on the back of each seat in the theatre. That's luxury.
Overall, a wonderful performance. Cast and orchestra--bravo! Congratulations, Robert! When do you get to take a break this summer??