An introduction to Verdi’s opera Otello

The Guildford Opera Company are celebrating 40 years. As part of the 40 years they will be performing Verdi’s Otello in the Electric Theatre.

The stage director of the performance Jackie Shearer gave a talk on the opera at the Guildford Institute.

Otello is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare’s play Othello. It was Verdi’s penultimate opera, and was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on 5 February 1887.

Verdi is his notices for the opera described it as after the tragedy by William Shakespeare, or in other words based on or adapted from.

Otello is set in Cyprus, the Venetians have just kicked the Turks out of Cyprus.

In Act I Shakespeare sets the scene. But, Othello is a play with a very tight plot, not much to cut. Verdi cuts out the entire first Act. In Otello we open with a storm and a triumphant Otello returning to Cyprus. A very dramatic opening. We have lost the wooing of his wife, defeat of the Turks.

For Otello, his marriage and who he was married to gives him his status, attack that and you attack the man.

At the end of Act I we have a duo between Otello and his wife that explains how they met.

No one knows what evil the bastard who is plotting against them is capable of until it is too late.

Wife of Otello does not see what is happening, why her husband is becoming jealous. She has beauty, is loved by her people, but has no brains. She is a loving wife.

It all reaches a climax when Otello turns on his wife at a state banquet.

The talk was illustrated with musical extracts.

The opera will be staged at the Electric Theatre. A small intimate theatre which has its own problems. The orchestra has to be scaled back, but it should be mush easier to hear and understand the singers.

Even with a full house the performance will make a loss.

GLive was highlly criticised by everyone as being a bad venue for anything. Input from people who wish to use the venue was ignored.

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