This is a definitive performance of Verdi's great opera based on Shakespeare's play. Del Monaco rises to artistic heights with Karajan's superb support. There is much subtle singing from him as well as the stentorian power he is known for. Tebaldi is unmatched as Desdemona. The RCA recording with Serafin is good with a gripping performance by Vickers and Rysanek but the Rome Opera Orchestra is not at the same high level as Karajan's Wiener Philharmoniker. - from Amazon.com
Verdi's late masterpiece is presented in Elijah Mashinsky's Met production with sumptuous sets and period costumes. Semyon Bychkov conducts an all-star cast led by South African Heldentenor Johan Botha in the title role with a voice of "impressive size and bronze color" (New York Times). Renee Fleming's Desdemona enshrines one of her signature roles in a definitive performance "she knows exactly how to spin the gentle lines of the "Willow Song" and "Ave Maria" so that they softly fill the hall" (New York Times). A strong supporting cast includes the superb Falk Struckmann as Iago and star tenor Michael Fabiano as Cassio.
In honor of the Tito Gobbi centenary (in 2013), the Associazione Musicale Tito Gobbi has unearthed and released this Otello, performed in the courtyard of the Doge's Palace in Venice, in August 1966. While technical challenges involved in broadcasting a production back in the '60s, from a venue not designed for theater, caused occasional problems involving camera work and sound, the resulting black-and-white video is well worth having, particularly for Gobbi's brilliant Iago. Although an earlier Gobbi Iago is available from VAI, filmed in Japan in 1959 opposite Mario Del Monaco's titanic Moor, this later document finds the extraordinary baritone no less nimble physically and vocally. In fact, the vastness of the performing area and the evocative atmosphere of the Palazzo Ducale seem to draw from Gobbi a sort of ownership of the environment that is perfect for Iago, as he darts about controlling events like a sardonic puppeteer. And, as one recalls from performances at the Met six months after this one, Gobbi was able to imbue the character with a youthful, amicable persona that made Iago's vile deeds all the more chilling. This video also confirms the recollection that this role, even in late career, was one the great singing actor found vocally congenial. There is a lightness of delivery that makes Iago's Act I drinking song and Act III duet with Cassio particularly stunning. Textual and tonal colors are employed in a manner that feels inevitable rather than applied, and Iago's "Credo" might as well have been written for Gobbi, so perfectly does it suit his gifts. All in all, this is a dazzling performance.
The first of Verdi's two late Shakespearian operas stands as one of the great masterpieces of grand opera. José Cura, ranked among the world's leading interpreters of Verdi's music, takes the title role in Willy Decker's profound and intense production, recorded live at the Liceu, Barcelona in 2006 in true surround sound and filmed with high definition cameras.
Giuseppe Verdi was born in the little town of Roncole in the vicinity of Parma and spent the longest period of his life in seclusion close to Parma. He died in Milan in 1901. Today, the region of Parma honours its one-time fellow citizen with the international Verdi Festival organized by the Teatro Regio di Parma. Every year, Verdi’s masterworks are performed in the historical theatres of Parma and neighbouring Busseto over 28 days in the autumn…
This recording has never received the respect it has deserved. The sound has been cleaned up and it is a Culshaw production with the VPO. It is fairly early in Karajan's career so the mannerisms that people fault him for are not so much in evidence. Del Monico is in great voice. This role needs an Italianate voice which is why I have never warmed to Domingo performances of the role. A great deal.
-By Grant C. Creeger-