LABELS: RCA Victor
PERFORMER: Jon Vickers, Leonie Rysanek, Tito Gobbi; Rome Opera Orchestra & Chorus/Tullio Serafin
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63180 2 ADD Reissue (1960)
So far, no recording of the greatest of Verdi’s Shakespeare operas has been a complete failure, but neither is any one of them a complete success. All things considered, I would choose as my preferred version and benchmark recording this 1960 performance, produced for RCA Victor with a fine sense of theatre by Richard Mohr. Jon Vickers is a most affecting Otello. His voice is one that can convey suffering very movingly, and he is totally convincing from his thrilling ‘Esultate!’ to the agonizing final scene.
An equally compelling performance comes from Tito Gobbi as Iago. This is the most magnificently acted of all Gobbi’s recorded Verdi roles. One has rarely heard Cassio’s dream sung with such insinuating tone, or the Credo delivered so convincingly. Leonie Rysanek’s Desdemona, though vocally uneven, is sympathetic, and Tullio Serafin’s conducting gets close to the heart of Verdi’s score. Charles Osborne