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Culture Forum

Culture Forum

  1. 15 Oct '09 11:49
    After years of badgering our local opera company for a better lineup of operas by the crowd favorite masters instead of the same old fare we are finally getting Othello staged to kick off our opera season. Verdi wrote this masterpiece in his twilight years and to many it is the jewel in his crown. Who knows how much more imaginative he would have become had he come out of retirement sooner. Verdi may have become infected with Wagnerian ideas and made them all his own. In doing so he created a most unique work and perhaps one of music's preeminent works!
  2. 22 Oct '09 11:43
    Otello
    Giuseppe Verdi

    Operas
    Oberto (1839)
    Un giorno di regno (1840)
    Nabucco (1842)
    I Lombardi alla prima crociata (1843)
    Ernani (1844)
    I due Foscari (1844)
    Giovanna d'Arco (1845)
    Alzira (1845)
    Attila (1846)
    Macbeth (1847)
    I masnadieri (1847)
    Jérusalem (1847)
    Il corsaro (1848)
    La battaglia di Legnano (1849)
    Luisa Miller (1849)
    Stiffelio (1850)
    Rigoletto (1851)
    Il trovatore (1853)
    La traviata (1853)
    Les vêpres siciliennes (1855)
    Simon Boccanegra (1857)
    Aroldo (1857)
    Un ballo in maschera (1859)
    La forza del destino (1862)
    Don Carlos (1867)
    Aida (1871)
    Otello (1887)
    Falstaff (1893)


    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 second to last opera and is considered by many to be his greatest. It was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on February 5, 1887.

    Verdi's early retirement
    After the completion and premiere of the opera Aida in 1871, Verdi decided that it was time for him to end his successful career as a composer of opera. Though he was easily the most popular, and possibly the wealthiest, composer in Italy during the time, Verdi, much as Rossini had done after the completion of the opera William Tell, retired from writing operas.

    Ricordi and the plot to end Verdi's retirement
    Because of the immense popularity of Verdi’s music in Italy by the 1870’s, Verdi’s retirement seemed to his publisher, Giulio Ricordi to be a waste of talent and possible profits. Thus a plot of a sort was hatched in order to coax the composer out of retirement to write another opera. Because of the importance of the dramatic aspects of opera to the composer, Verdi was especially selective of his libretti. Consequently, it was known that in order for Verdi possibly to agree to create another opera after a decade of retirement, the libretto would need to be such to capture his interest. It was generally known that Verdi was an admiring fan of the dramatic works of Shakespeare and had, throughout his career, desired to create an opera based on a Shakespearian play. However, his one attempt at doing so, Macbeth (1847), was a comparative failure. Because of its relatively straightforward story, the play Othello was selected as a likely target.

    Proposal and Arrigo Boito
    Finally, after some plotting, Ricordi, in conjunction with Verdi’s friend, the conductor Franco Faccio, subtly introduced the idea of a new opera to Verdi. During a dinner at Verdi’s Milan residence during the summer of 1879, Ricordi and Faccio guided the conversation towards Shakespeare’s play Othello and to the librettist Arrigo Boito (whom Ricordi claimed to be a great fan of the play also). Suggestions were made, despite initial skepticism on the part of the composer, that Boito would be interested in creating a new libretto based upon the play. Within several days, Boito was brought to meet Verdi and present him with an outline of a libretto for an opera based on Othello. However, Verdi, still maintaining that his career had ended with the composition of Aida, made very little progress on the work. Nonetheless, collaborations with Boito in the revision of the earlier opera Simon Boccanegra helped to convince Verdi of Boito’s outstanding ability as a librettist. Finally, production began on the opera, which Verdi initially referred to as Iago.

    Completion and production
    As the Italian public became aware that the retired Verdi was composing another opera, rumors about it abounded. At the same time, many of the most illustrious conductors, singers and opera-house managers in Europe were vying for an opportunity to play a part in Otello 's premiere, despite the fact that Faccio and La Scala, Milan, had already been selected as the conductor and the venue for the first performance. The two male protagonists had been selected, too: Italy's foremost dramatic tenor, Francesco Tamagno, was to sing Otello while the esteemed French singing-actor Victor Maurel would assume the villainous baritone role of Iago. Romilda Pantaleoni, a well known singing-actress, was assigned Desdemona's part.

    Upon the completion of the opera, preparations for the initial performance were conducted in absolute secrecy and Verdi reserved the right to cancel the premiere up to the last minute. Verdi need not have worried: Otello 's debut proved to be a resounding success. The audience's enthusiasm for Verdi was shown by the 20 curtain calls that he took at the end of the opera. Further stagings of Otello soon followed at leading theatres throughout Europe and America.
  3. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    23 Oct '09 07:31
    Don't know about the opera, but I was listening to a very buoyant collection of Verdi's sacred music this morning.
  4. 24 Oct '09 05:18
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Don't know about the opera, but I was listening to a very buoyant collection of Verdi's sacred music this morning.
    Verdi's sacred music is really great. His small less buoyant pieces are little masterworks: Pezzi Sachri. His massive requiem is operatic in breadth and is quite buoyant. If you liked his sacred music you would fall in love with La Traviata, Rigoletto, Ottelo. Verdi also has credible chamber music. Some experts say there is a certain vulgarity to his music. I've never agreed, but then mine are pigs ears and country tastes! Once you absorb Verdi then Rossini's William Tell will make more sense. If you prefer sacred music then Boccherini's Stabat Mater and Vivaldi's version of it are little known jewels. There is also Antonio Caldara's version. Very unusual. if you like verdi's because of the brass, Caldara's has plenty of brass and is 150+ years older and presages the future!
  5. 26 Oct '09 11:46
    New opera house in Dallas has excellent acoustics, great sight lines and only bad seats are in the nosebleed section. Opera lovers out there you will enjoy the Winspear Opera House indeed!
  6. 03 Nov '09 15:50
    V.E.R.D.I.

    Who can hate Verdi for loaning his name for a unifying, democratic acronym?

    That said, I love Aida.
  7. Subscriber AttilaTheHorn
    Erro Ergo Sum
    03 Nov '09 16:34
    I've played several of Verdi's operas as well as the Requiem, all a joy to play.
  8. 03 Nov '09 23:42
    Originally posted by scherzo
    V.E.R.D.I.

    Who can hate Verdi for loaning his name for a unifying, democratic acronym?

    That said, I love Aida.
    Vittorio Emanuelle Re di Italia! A great acronym for a revolution, Hard to not love a people whose love for the arts surpasses their love for blowing one another up!
  9. 03 Nov '09 23:46
    Originally posted by AttilaTheHorn
    I've played several of Verdi's operas as well as the Requiem, all a joy to play.
    I envy you being able to play in an orchestra, dear friend! In this new opera house you can appreciate opera really well. It is the closest I'll ever come to actually being in the orchestra pit! Otello is indeed awe inspriing!!! Can't wait for the next few operas except Moby Dick. After that it will be Cosi Fan Tutte and Madama Butterfly! Oh, the pain of waiting!
  10. 04 Nov '09 02:13
    Now I need to get back to work and get the Dallas Opera to stage the following:
    Adriana Lecoverour/Cilea
    L'Arlessiana/Cilea
    La Gioconda/Ponchielli
    Andrea Chenier/Giordano
    Peleas et Melisande/Debussy
    Boris Godunov/Mussorgsky
    La Finta Semplice, La Finta Giardiniera, Bastien und Bastienne/Mozart
    Guglielmo Tell/Rossini
    L'Amico Fritz/Mascagni
    La Wally/Catalani
    Dido and Aeneas/Purcell

    So many, so little time! Any favorites out there that you wish were staged? If I could only be able to live NYC and have season tickets to the Met!
  11. Subscriber AttilaTheHorn
    Erro Ergo Sum
    04 Nov '09 09:26
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    Now I need to get back to work and get the Dallas Opera to stage the following:
    Adriana Lecoverour/Cilea
    L'Arlessiana/Cilea
    La Gioconda/Ponchielli
    Andrea Chenier/Giordano
    Peleas et Melisande/Debussy
    Boris Godunov/Mussorgsky
    La Finta Semplice, La Finta Giardiniera, Bastien und Bastienne/Mozart
    Guglielmo Tell/Rossini
    L'Amico Fritz/Mascagni
    La Wa ...[text shortened]... you wish were staged? If I could only be able to live NYC and have season tickets to the Met!
    I love playing opera, but I can't say that I'm a big opera fan in that I don't have favourites and I don't go out of my way to attend if I'm not playing. I'm a huge fan of Mozart and I believe every note he ever wrote, for whatever instrument, was operatic in concept, so I guess you could say that I like his operas best. I especially like Magic Flute, Marriage of Figaro, and Don Giovanni. In a later period, I have a fondness for Hansel and Gretel too.
  12. 04 Nov '09 12:35
    Originally posted by AttilaTheHorn
    I love playing opera, but I can't say that I'm a big opera fan in that I don't have favourites and I don't go out of my way to attend if I'm not playing. I'm a huge fan of Mozart and I believe every note he ever wrote, for whatever instrument, was operatic in concept, so I guess you could say that I like his operas best. I especially like Magic Flute, ...[text shortened]... Figaro, and Don Giovanni. In a later period, I have a fondness for Hansel and Gretel too.
    I love the pageantry, the staging, the lighting, the costumes, the choruses and even the goofy dances they choreograph for these operas. I include those operas I have never seen on stage. I did see the Impresario as a concert number at a local college. I would also love to see Lucio Silla, Mitridate Re di Ponto, Il Sogno di Scipione, Lo Sposo Deluso. These Mozart operas never get stage nor used as concert numbers even though these are not long operas. Instead we are made to suffer garbage like the Apern Papers, Nixon in China. AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!