Welcome! This is your first free article. Get more free articles when you sign up with your email.


“A strong cast in a lacklustre production”

Originally launched by star tenor Jonas Kaufmann, Keith Warner’s 2017 production returns, this time with 65-year-old American Gregory Kunde in the title role. He gives a remarkable performance, his honed, powerful and wide-ranging instrument well up to the notorious demands of what is usually reckoned the most challenging tenor role in the entire Italian repertoire.

Dramatically he is imposing, too, though taken as a whole Warner’s staging rarely grips as it needs to. Many will also be disappointed that no singer of colour has yet appeared in this iconic role at this address.

Kunde’s co-protagonists are of an equally high standard. Once again Ermonela Jaho gives her emotional all as Desdemona, even if at times she is taken right to her vocal limits by the part.

With his dark-grained, vocally centred Iago – a fine character study delivered with vigour and point – Carlos Alvarez offers what is arguably the most complete of the three central performances. Around them, the secondary roles are expertly realised, with Freddie De Tommaso’s forthright Cassio and Catherine Carby’s concerned Emilia both memorable.

The evening’s weakness lies in a production that seems to have little to say about the piece itself. With semi-abstract, quasi-modernist sets ill-matched to period costumes, the visuals are lacklustre: not enough of the drama strikes home with the power so vividly realised in Verdi’s nakedly dramatic score.

Royal Opera music director Antonio Pappano conducts and is in his element, drawing strong work from the chorus and orchestra, and maintaining dynamism alternating with grandeur and intimacy throughout a musically impressive evening.

Related to this Review

Extinction Rebellion stages mass protest at BP-sponsored Royal Opera House screeningExtinction Rebellion stages mass protest at BP-sponsored Royal Opera House screening

Production Details
Production nameOtello
VenueRoyal Opera House
StartsDecember 9, 2019
EndsDecember 22, 2019
Running time3hrs5mins
ComposerGiuseppe Verdi
DirectorKeith Warner
ConductorAntonio Pappano
ChoreographerMichael Barry
Set designerBoris Kudlicka
Costume designerKaspar Glarner
Lighting designerBruno Poet
Casting directorPeter Mario Katona
CastCatherine Carby, Ermonela Jaho, Gregory Kunde, Andrés Presno, Carlos Álvarez, Freddie De Tommaso
Production managerSarah O’Connor
Company stage managerRuth Mulholland
Stage managerSimon Catchpole
Head of lightingLes Bone
Head of wardrobeChrissie Collins
ProducerThe Royal
VerdictA strong cast deliver a fine musical performance in a lacklustre production
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.
George Hall

George Hall

George Hall

George Hall

Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue

Invest in The Stage today with a subscription starting at just £3.98
The Stage
© Copyright The Stage Media Company Limited 2020
Linked In