Verdi – Otello / Domingo, Te Kanawa / ROH 1992 (2)

(Previous section here.)

The person whose face is on the front of the DVD box is Plácido Domingo, and he certainly deserves to be there. He’s definitely operating in the ‘conventional heroic/tragic Romantic tenor’ mode, but whether one likes that style or not it’s hard to have too strong an opinion about it because the guy sounds so damn good. (This is completely irrelevant, but you know how there was some discussion a while back of how tall a certain soprano is? Well, Domingo’s fans are apparently all over that question as far as he is concerned – when I googled him just now, one of the things that pops up in the info from Wikipedia is that he is 6’2″/ 1.87 meters tall, which would put him at about 1.09 VKs. For the record.)

I enjoyed the aforementioned Iago/Otello duet in Act II, but I also got sucked into Act IV (where Otello, having fallen for Iago’s deceptions, kills the innocent Desdemona) partly because of Domingo, but also because of Kiri Te Kanawa. Here is the willow song, which Te Kanewa sings with both gentleness and complete control – the subtle little dynamic variations are lovely:

When I was watching this I kept thinking whether I would want to see a hardcore Regie version of Otello or not. I mean, obviously, if someone knocked on my office door and said “hey earwormopera, they’re doing Otello at the student center tonight – it’s kind of regie, but do you want to go?” I would 1. wonder if I was about to be the victim of some kind of insane practical joke/hazing ritual and 2. go anyway, on the offchance that there really was Regie Verdi afoot and somehow I had missed all the fliers.

But that aside, I’m not sure. The libretto is pretty specific about Venice and things – but it’s not like there are no timeless themes in this opera. The fact that I am both curious and a little apprehensive makes me think it would probably be a good idea.

4 thoughts on “Verdi – Otello / Domingo, Te Kanawa / ROH 1992 (2)

  1. This is the Otello disc that I ended up with, too. I love both Domingo and Te Kanawa.
    Otello is one of those operas I don’t really know, but feel I ought to. I guess I need to listen a bit more. As in Madama Butterfly, I get so angry at the bad guy (Pinkerton, Iago) that I cannot focus on the music! Actually I get really pissed off at Otello, too. In all that anger, I DID notice that there was some lovely singing going on.

    I guess I need some perspective! Maybe I’ll check out that Stuttgart Entfuhrung with two of everyone to clear my brain. (Yeah! That’ll do it! Right.)


    1. Yeah, I sometimes get annoyed with Otello as well – part of a grand tradition of credulous heroes who believe silly things and spurn their ladies for the wrong reasons. I don’t know the opera as well as I should – I have a CD recording of it with I think Domingo again as Otello and I quite like it, but it’s not one I’ve listened to over and over.

      Ah, that Entfuhrung – NOT a brain-clearer. I still think about that occasionally and wonder if I missed something. (I have yet to figure out what the deal is with Selim’s big black rock, for one thing. If you come up with a theory about that, please tell me.)


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