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Otello: Zurich Opera House (Tang) [Blu-ray] [2014]

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Cecilia Bartoli, John Osborn, Javier Camarena, Liliana Nikiteanu, Muhai Tang
  • Directors: Moshe Leiser, Patrice Caurier
  • Writers: Gioachino Rossini
  • Producers: Opernhaus Zürich
  • Format: Classical, DVD-Video, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Korean, Chinese
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Decca
  • DVD Release Date: 6 May 2014
  • Run Time: 156 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00IAD18FK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,323 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Cecilia Bartoli takes on the role of Desdemona in this Zurich Opera House production of Rossini's opera conducted by Muhai Tang. Based on Shakespeare's play 'Othello', the opera tells the story of the love between Othello (John Osborn) and Desdemona that is subverted and turned to a tragic end by the machinations of the wicked Iago (Edgardo Rocha).

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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In Rossini’s “Otello”, the Moor is tricked into thinking that Desdemona is unfaithful to him, she sings a beautiful song about willows and then it all ends badly. But that’s about where the similarities with the Shakespeare and Verdi versions end. However, as early nineteenth century libretti go, it’s still pretty good. My only real problem was not being able to understand why, given that she KNOWS that her letter to Otello has been intercepted by her father, she doesn’t simply mention it to Otello. This would have saved her a lot of grief!

Otello is one of Rossini’s very finest scores. It’s not performed nearly as often as it deserves to be, probably because of the difficulty of getting three top-notch tenors in one place at one time. This Zurich production manages just that. John Osborn is superb as Otello (he’s blacked up, which will doubtless upset a few people). The stand-out tenor is Javier Camarena as Rodrigo – in the Rossini version promoted from a bit-part to being the son of the Doge and Desdemona’s other suitor. He sings magnificently, both in the heroic and in the gentle quiet lyrical passages. Totally brilliant – I can understand why he’s been getting rave reviews at the Met recently. Edgardo Rocha as Iago also acquits himself well.

Of course, this is really Cecilia Bartoli’s show, and she’s brilliant – as well as being totally herself, of course! It’s a good thing that Rossini’s Desdemona is not Shakespeare’s naïve innocent, but a far more feisty and rebellious lady – which suits Bartoli very well.

The production is in modern dress (60s, I think?) but otherwise pretty much sticks to what was intended.
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This is perhaps one of the most disappointing production I have ever seen. The singing is SUBLIME Cecilia Bartoly is at her best with a mature voice pouring out the passion absolutely sublime. BUT Otello is Doge of Venice and the action appears to be in something that somewhat resembles a rather dingy second class waiting room at a 1950 railway station that incongruously has a billiard table in it and a somewhat dingy chandelier for lighting. I can only liken it to finding strawberries in a quagmire!!! It would be fabulous as an audio CD. I am not against modern or even way out productions ... I can even tolerate the Queen of the Night making her second major appearance from a refrigerator in Harnencourts last production of Magic flute with in one scene the three boys plucking chickens covered in blood !!! ... but this production of Otello is really quite awful!!
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Here we have yet another opera that someone has tried to ruin by adopting costumes out of keeping with the day and age in which the action is set as having taken place. Otello, who is supposed to be the commander in chief of a force which recaptured the island of Cyprus, is dressed in a battle dress type costume bearing the insignia of a a commander in the Royal Navy on the shoulders of his battle jacket. A Royal Naval commander is equivalent in rank to a Lieutenant Colonel in the army and is not high enough to be staff officer rank, which a commander of any large liberating force would need to be. Otello would, at the very least, have held the rank of naval commodore equivalent to brigadier general rank in the army. Rear admiral or major general rank would have been even more likely. Then again, he is wearing aiguillettes, which are normally worn only with dress or semi-dress uniform, on the right side of his dress jacket. Then again, if he's supposed to be a naval officer, why is he wearing army style battle boots? Iago and some minor characters were also clad in similar style modern military attire. We are told in the accompanying booklet that the costumes were designed by someone called Agostino Cavalca. If I couldn't design more appropriate costumes than these, I wouldn't want my name to appear anywhere in connection with them. It beggars belief that anyone could make such a hash out of designing costumes such as these travesties of the real thing.

Fortunately, Rossini's score, along with the singing and acting, more than compensate for this appalling gaff. Cecilia Bartoli gives an impressively convincing performance as Desdemona. Fortunately, there wasn't much the dress designer could do to mess up the straightforwardness of her simple black dress.
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Wonderful singing in Rossini's rarely performed version of Otello. Desdemona is feisty and Rodrigo gets some of the best tunes! I prefer it to the Verdi version, especially the final act, where the music is haunting and Desdemona almost survives.
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Don't hate me, I've tried, but I just don't like Ms. Bartoli's voice. I like Rossini, but this opera doesn't do it for me. I remember the Von State-Carreras recording. Her "Willow Song', was haunting and memorable. The men are great. blasting high notes throughout the performance. The production sucks. With production such as this one, they should have done a concert performance and saved some money. I'll listen to it again, maybe I'll like it better, but for now--no.
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