Verdi: Otello

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

WORKS: Otello
PERFORMER: Plácido Domingo, Cheryl Studer, Sergei Leiferkus, Denyce Graves, Ramon VargasChorus & Orchestra of the Opéra Bastille/Myung-Whun Chung
Is this new Otello a necessary or even useful addition to the catalogue? It is certainly a perfectly respectable performance, with the orchestra and chorus of the Paris Bastille Opera playing well for Myung-Whun Chung. But one’s overall impression is that something essential is missing: any real feeling for Verdi’s style and spirit. Cheryl Studer’s Desdemona is sturdily, and in places affectingly sung, and Leiferkus brings intelligence and a strong personality to Iago, though his music cries out for a more Italianate timbre. The supporting roles are more than competently handled. With Otello sung by Plácido Domingo, today’s leading exponent of the role, all should be well. However, Domingo has perhaps been singing the role too often or for too long. Vocally he is in good form here, but it is not very exciting, nor has he anything fresh to reveal about the character. This is not a highly individual Otello of the kind that one used to hear (and can still hear on disc) from tenors such as Jon Vickers, James McCracken or Ramón Vinay, nor do I find it at all moving. Domingo sang the role with far greater intensity for Lorin Maazel on EMI. Charles Osborne