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Giuseppe Verdi


"Otello is a masterpiece. Go on your knees, Mother, and say 'Viva Verdi'."
~ Arturo Toscanini, second cello at the premiere performance

Librettist: Arrigo Boito
Based on the play Othello by William Shakespeare

Cast of Characters
(in order of vocal appearance)

  • Montano, (bass) Otello's predecessor as Governor
  • Cassio, (tenor) a Captain
  • Iago, (baritone) Otello's ensign
  • Roderigo, (tenor) a Venetian gentleman
  • Otello, (tenor) A General in the Venetian Army
  • Desdemona, (soprano) wife of Otello
  • Emilia, (mezzo-soprano) Iago's wife and Desdemona's attendant
  • Herald, (baritone)
  • Lodovico, (bass) Ambassador of the Venetian republic
  • Soldiers and sailors from Venice and the people of Cyprus.


The Opera takes place at the end of the Fifteenth Century in a seaport in Cyprus


5th February 1887; La Scala, Milan; Italy.


Otello has married Desdemona against her father's wishes. A mercenary in the service of the Venetian Army, Otello has been sent to Cyprus to repel an invasion by the Turks. Iago, his ensign, feels slighted because of Cassio's promotion over him in rank. Iago plots and manipulates events and feelings to his benefit in order to destroy Otello's marriage and eventually his life.

Additional Information:

Copyright © 1996, Stephen L. Parker.