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Giuseppe Verdi


What Fires the Intensity of Otello?

Otello is one of the most intense operas in the standard repertoire today, what makes it so? Is it the prose of Boito(as aided by William Shakespeare)? The musical genius of Giuseppe Verdi? The dramatic performances of the principals? A culmination of emotions? A combination of these?

One point to consider is that each act plays without a break in the music. This was a departure from Verdi's usual style of each Act consisting of arias, duets, trios or ensembles grouped together. His style in Otello is much more compact and intense. Where emotions run wild in Aïda, in Otello, they are kept in check to burst forth sporadically often and without warning. The audience is forced to keep its emotions in check until the curtain falls at the end of each act. This without a doubt has an affect on the performers as well. The intensity of their performance is not diminished while waiting on seemingly infinite applause at the end of an aria or large choral number. However, they also do not have time for rest if they need it. Otello is on the stage three quarters of the second act and all of the third. Iago is on stage almost the entire first three acts. The only respite for him is the two duets between Otello and Desdemona. With the emotional demands of the score, the endurance of the Otello is tested.

Jump To Essays

Title of EssayAct
The Mighty Warrior in all his Glory1
Temete, Signore, tu la gelosia2
After proof (Otello has his own rules)3
Otello, fu.4

Copyright © 1996, Stephen L. Parker.