Saturday, October 27, 2012

Otello in HD

Conductor...............Semyon Bychkov
Production..............Elijah Moshinsky

Otello..................Johan Botha
Desdemona...............Renée Fleming
Iago....................Falk Struckmann
Emilia..................Renée Tatum
Cassio..................Michael Fabiano
Lodovico................James Morris
Montàno.................Stephen Gaertner
Roderigo................Eduardo Valdes
Herald..................Luthando Qave

In the intermission interviews for Verdi's Otello live in HD from the Metropolitan Opera it was revealed that Renée Fleming had sung Desdemona in 1994 at the Met in this very same production.  She is still gorgeous in the role, though I have never seen this production before.

The main difference between Verdi's Otello and Shakespeare's Othello is how quickly Verdi's hero stops believing in his beloved wife.  There has to be some reason for this, and that reason is provided by the huge and not particularly attractive Johann Botha.  He just can't believe that this beautiful woman could love him.  I liked him better than I did when he sang the role 3 years ago in San Francisco.  This time I have no complaints.  His control of the phrase is now quite beautiful.  He has been ill, so I believe our performance was his first in the run where he was completely healthy.  Vocally and dramatically, he and Renée were a very fine doomed couple.  They died in style.

Our Iago was Falk Struckmann, a German who roars and growls his way through the opera.  He is a nasty piece of work.  We know why Iago hates Otello and Cassio--they were promoted over him--but what exactly does he have against Desdemona?

What we were all asking each other was:  when do we get to see Michael Fabiano in something serious?  His was an outstanding Cassio, but the role is just not much.  I think he is ready for more.


Paul said...

I was unimpressed with Botha; let's hope it was the lingering effects of his apparently nasty cold. He's also not much of an actor (my wife described him as "an oversized lox"). I'd seen Fleming in this role in late 2001 in Chicago, and she was just as terrific here as back then.

Do you have problems with people talking during the opera in your town? We were sitting one row in front of some blowhard who spent most of the warmup period regaling his seatmates with how many times he'd been to the Met, what he'd seen, who sang, etc. Normally I'd find that conversation interesting and might even be tempted to join in. However, he spoke in such an unctuous, condescending manner that it was clearly a portent to come. Sure enough, he felt compelled to offer full-voiced (not whispered) commentary during every applause moment in the first two acts. The not-so-subtle "shhh" responses I tossed over my shoulder had no effect. Just before the end of intermission, I said to my wife in a voice he could not have avoided hearing, "Now I'm sure NO ONE would think of talking during the remainder of the opera." However, he started to say something to his companion right after the interlude, at which point I half-stood, turned around to face him and said "shhh" very loudly (accompanied by the international finger-to-the-lips-STFU sign. Nary a peep the rest of the way.

Was that rude?

Dr.B said...

First Botha. I know how hard it is to cast Otello so I cut him some slack. He does not at all project the sweetness of Domingo, but comes across as a tough, not particularly likeable person. Let's just say I wouldn't fly to see him.

Dr.B said...

No. I talk before, and yes I will talk at other times. I think it's probably more that you didn't particularly like him and wished he would shut up. I was in DC for Elixir and met some lovely people on either side of me. On the right was a pair of Russians who wanted to know what I thought of Netrebko.

Unknown said...

I haven't watched it. Is it interesting?

Dr.B said...

Renee is outstanding. Botha is just ok.