November 11, 14, 16
7:30 p.m. & 2 p.m.
Pittsburgh Opera continues its ambitious 76th anniversary with an opera that almost didn’t happen, yet endures as a masterpiece. Based on William Shakespeare’s legendary 1603 tragedy, Pittsburgh Opera’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello is showcased for just four nights at Downtown’s Benedum Center for the Performing Arts.
An opera in four acts, with Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, Otello is considered to be Verdi’s penultimate opera, and one of the greatest operas ever written. First performed at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala in 1887, the storied work was almost never created. Following the hit success of Aida in 1871, Verdi retreated into retirement, reluctant to write anything new, and it took his Milan publisher Giulio Ricordi 10 arduous years to convince him to compose again. Boito’s libretto remains true to Shakespeare’s play, Othello, and is considered a masterpiece in its own right.
Opera-goers will be transfixed as the manipulated Otello transforms from a loving husband into a ruthless killer, and ultimately one of literature’s most tragic figures, in this dramatic operatic masterpiece. Beginning the iconic story in Cyprus instead of Venice, Otello revolves around four main characters: the Moor Otello, who is the new governor of Cyprus, his beloved wife Desdemona; his loyal lieutenant, Cassio; and his unfaithful ensign, Iago, Otello explores universal themes of racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge, power and repentance.
Not seen in Pittsburgh since 1990, Otello marks the returns of Carl Tanner (Aida, 2013) starring in the opera’s title role. Former Opera Resident Artist Danielle Pastin (The Grapes of Wrath, 2008) plays the innocent but doomed Desdemona, and Anthony Michaels-Moore (A Masked Ball, 2002) takes on the role of the heartless and manipulative Iago.
The first fully-staged opera of the company’s 2014-15 season, Otello is directed by Kristine McIntyre, and features a seasoned cast of Pittsburgh Opera veterans, along with several current and past Resident Artists. The talented cast also features Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artists Alex DeSocio (Montano), Adam Bonanni (Roderigo), Laurel Semerdjian (Emilia), and Phillip Gay (Lodovico), along with former Resident Artist Daniel Curran (Cassio). Music director for Otello is Antony Walker, who is returning to conduct the Pittsburgh Opera orchestra and chorus.
Want to brush up on your Verdi? Catch the next free Brown Bag Concert, set for Saturday, November 8th at noon, in Pittsburgh Opera’s George R. White Opera Studio. Attendees will enjoy a Shakespeare-Verdi mashup featuring selections from the composer’s operas, and art songs based on The Bard’s plays, and will have the chance to meet the performers after the concert.
Learn more about Verdi’s Otello during special public programs, including Pre-Opera Talks, Veterans Night at the Opera and Meet the Artist events at the Benedum Center. The run time for Otello is two hours and 55 minutes, with two intermissions.