Verdi Otello opera to libretto by Arrigo Boito. Directed 2017 by Keith Warner at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Stars Jonas Kaufmann (Otello), Marco Vratogna (Iago), Maria Agresta (Desdemona), Frédéric Antoun (Cassio), Kai Rüütel (Emilia), Thomas Atkins (Roderigo), Simon Shibambu (Montano), In Sung Sim (Lodovico), and Thomas Barnard (Herald). Sir Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Vasko Vassilev) and the Royal Opera Chorus (Chorus Director William Spaulding). Sets by Boris Kudlička; costumes by Kaspar Glarner; lighting by Bruno Poet; movement direction by Michael Barry, and fight direction by Ran Arthur Braun. Directed for TV by Jonathan Haswell. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
So many Otellos: so little time! It’s April 2019 and we now have 8 recordings of this opera. Hugo Shirley comes to the rescue. He reports in the August 2018 Gramophone (page 94) that there is much to admire and appreciate in this Royal Opera show, but he misses the “element of wildness” that’s key to the personality of warrior Otello. But Hugo still recommends this disc over the herd thanks to the modest Sony price (opening at about 1/2 of what the others charge). H’mm. Maybe there’s a reason why this is half-price. Enter Fred Cohn in the March 2019 Opera News (pages 59-60) who blasts this production for “dank darkness” abounding in “deliberatly alienatiang touches” that keep Kaufman from “establishing a through-line character” for Otello. Cohn also attacks Agresta for “fuzzy diction” and for Sony for a poor sound recording that “robs the orchestral sound of weight and color.” Still so many Otellos: and now a little less time!
Here are two official clips that seem long on academic discussion and less on showing what the production is like: