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Thread: Verdi on disc - Otello

  1. #16
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pugg View Post


    For all the right reasons and..... I was there whilst recording.
    My DVD choice although Morris is not ideal as Iago.
    Last edited by DavidA; Oct-19-2017 at 23:52.

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  3. #17
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    He's terrible there. I think that it's always a mistake for a real baritonal heldentenor to sing Walther. Melchior knew this, and never sang the role.

    I heard that Preiser recording with Ralf a long time back, and remember liking him, but don't recall much else about the performance.
    Speaking of Melchior, his Otello excerpts (recorded in German) are vocally superb, musical and without melodrama.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_X1-Sw5R1Q

    I think he'd have liked to sing the role at the Met, but it "belonged" to that howling banshee Martinelli.

    As for Meistersinger, Melchior could sing Walther's music splendidly - nothing like Hopf! - and recorded some excellent excerpts including the best of all quintets with Friedrich Schorr and Elisabeth Schumann. He said that he didn't pursue the part onstage because it kept him consistently high, and he was more comfortable in the other Wagner parts that exercised his whole vocal range.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Oct-20-2017 at 00:57.

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    Karajan 2 - for some unaccountable reason Karajan cuts the score. Minor cuts but irritating nonetheless in a recording. Unfortunately no one dared to stand up to him and tell him to record the whole thing. The conducting and playing is superb, Vickers gives us a psychotically unhinged Otello, Freni a touching Desdemona and Glossop, a superb Iago on stage, is somewhat bluff.
    I did read somewhere that it has to do with the filming with the same cast.
    had to be so and so long for cinema release, just like the Doming Otello film.
    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pugg View Post
    I did read somewhere that it has to do with the filming with the same cast.
    had to be so and so long for cinema release, just like the Doming Otello film.
    Of course there was no reason for him not to do a complete audio version as Maazel did for the Zeferelli film. The audio can be cut.

  7. #20
    Senior Member Sonata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I too find that Iago is the really interesting character in Otello. That isn't to say that he's the most comprehensible; that honor might go to Cassio or Emilia! Iago is probably the most completely evil character in all of opera, which his mustache-twirling "credo" (really just a not-very-credible poetic flourish on the part of Boito) gets nowhere close to explaining. Not much more comprehensible is Otello's gullibility and stunning lack of character judgment, a bad flaw in a supposed noble leader. Then we have Desdemona's basic anonymity and pathetic passivity...

    The story seems contrived, in retrospect, solely for the purpose of creating an excuse for Verdi's magnificent score (as it originally provided an excuse for Shakespeare's poetry and for great actors to portray extremes of emotion onstage). But perhaps it was something more to the composer: perhaps the inexplicable motivations of the characters, the fact that they seem like pawns in some diabolical chess game, gave Verdi a chance to express his own deepest view of human nature and human life as fundamentally meaningless and governed totally by malevolent forces that make a mockery of our hopes and ideals - in which case Iago's credo may be Verdi's own. But however we view it, as we submit ourselves to Verdi's music we're willing to accept its reality, and even to feel that we're listening to the composer's masterpiece. Such is the power of opera, if not indeed the very essence of it. If the music is good enough, it can make us accept almost anything!

    One thing I have to believe, in order to enjoy this opera, is that Otello really is a noble hero with a tragic flaw. Only his nobility makes his disgraceful downfall anything other than sordid and pathetic, and Verdi, understanding that, has given him the necessary musical stature. Fullfilling that condition requires a voice of heroic quality: a Tamagno, a Melchior, a Del Monaco, a Vickers. Iago, on the other hand, needs above all a great singing actor, who can make the character's mysteriously demonic character subtle and absorbing; he has to seem evil to us, but not to Otello (lest we find our gullible hero even more incredibly obtuse). Desdemona, having nothing interesting in her personality to engage us, needs primarily a lovely, warm, expressive voice capable of projecting in the third act ensemble and giving us a ravishingly beautiful Willow Song and Ave Maria.

    For me these conditions have always been best satisfied by the old RCA recording under Serafin, with Jon Vickers in his prime and Tito Gobbi as an ideal Iago. Leonie Rysanek may not have Tebaldi's classic Italian warmth as Desdemona, but she's sympathetic enough in what is the least important of the three principal roles. I like the lack of overdrive in Serafin's conducting, which is always knowing and sensitive and allows the opera to be as noble and humane as it can be.

    I've never cared for the distinctly unheroic voice of Domingo as Otello, although he acted the part superbly.
    Ok. You talked me into it. I have to buy the Serafin recording now...
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  8. #21
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonata View Post
    Ok. You talked me into it. I have to buy the Serafin recording now...
    Yes for Gobbi's definitive Iago!


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    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    WHY DIDN'T ANYONE MENTION THE EXISTENCE OF THIS????



    I was reading this article that I found, only looking for comments about Wolfgang Windgassen and his forging song issues. The CD is in Spotify and the sound, voices and highlights are incredible. Andromeda is selling it cheaply.
    Last edited by Granate; Feb-07-2018 at 17:20.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    WHY DIDN'T ANYONE MENTION THE EXISTENCE OF THIS????



    I was reading this article that I found, only looking for comments about Wolfgang Windgassen and his forging song issues. The CD is in Spotify and the sound, voices and highlights are incredible. Andromeda is selling it cheaply.
    I have one live Otello with del Monaco and Souliotis, that's enough said.
    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    My go to recording remains Vickers/Rysanek/Gobbi;Serafin for most of the reasons enumerated by others, but I don't know if anyone has yet mentioned this DVD from the Met.



    Once you get past the ridiculous afro, the intensity of Vickers's performance will grab you by the throat, almost too painful to watch. Scotto's acting can be a little mannered, but she is superb in the final acts and MacNeil a good deal better than I expected.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Otello and Falstaff are operas which, for he, work better than their respective Shakespeare plays. Verdi was at the height of his considerable powers - the greatest opera composer of his day and able to write concise operas with drama packed into each one. This is true music drama for me - something Wagner could not get to. I always think that the plot of Otello is somewhat unbelievable but that goes for the play as well. So it is important that Otello is played as somewhat psychotic rather than just a noble simpleton. Vickers does this best IMO. A terrific performance with Karajan (although HvK for some unaccountable reason makes two minor cuts) with Freni a superb Desdemona. With Serafin the performance us not so mature but the Iago of Gobbi is definitive and must be heard.
    Last edited by Star; Feb-10-2018 at 10:08.

  16. #26
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Verdi
    Otello Live recording
    Mario del Monaco, Gabriella Tucci, Tito Gobbi, Mariano Caruso, Gabriele de’ Julis, Anna di Stasio
    NHK Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
    Alberto Erede
    Andromeda (1959/2009 Remastered Edition)


    There are other nights where we can enjoy both Mario del Monaco and Tito Gobbi together, but this looks like the only one in Stereo. The position of the mics is perfect and creates a realistic ambience. My minor complaints are often for the erratic playing of the NHK orchestra and the clapping before the orchestra has ended the acts. The cast is excellent in performance. Monaco is quite better than in Karajan and Tucci serves well in her Desdemona character despite not being top-tier. This couple has been played by singers I like more but in this performance they cannot do better.

    Gobbi’s Iago is a new height in my experience with this Opera. Diction, interpretation, cleanness and evilness. The “beba beba” scene, drinking with Caruso’s Cassio, is unbeatable. He also does well in the RCA studio recording in this scene, because for me, many Iagos have failed and wobbled here.

    This is my new reference together with the Levine/Domingo recording that I now own. I played also the Serafin/Vickers recording but Gobbi was a bit burnt and Rysanek was not my taste for Desdemona. This Otello has everything you can ask for in Stereo.

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    I am no fan of Domingo, so I will just skip a bunch of his performances.

    My treasured Otello's are live performances in general.

    Del Monaco tends to shout and be insensitive. In the "landmark" studio recording under Karajan, he is stiff as a board (so is Tebaldi). My preferred of his Otello's is a live performance with De Los Angeles/Leonard Warren conducted by Cleva.



    Jon Vickers studio recording is ruined by Rysanek's Desdemona (I wonder who decided to cast her in a sweet. affectionate Italian role, when De Los Angeles, Scotto, Moffo, Caballe, Zeani were around?). I agree with Greg that the live one from the Met with Scotto is terrific.

    If one can tolerate historical performance, I highly recommend a live broadcast from the MET in 1938 with Martinelli/Rethberg/Tibbett, conducted by Ettore Panizza (mentioned above). This is probably my most favorite Otello. Martinelli is at least as expressive as Vickers, albeit more italiante . Rethberg convinces us why she is considered one of the leading prima donna of her days. Tibbet is strong and sinister. The performance has been remastered and released many times. I got it through the box set "Verdi at the MET: Legendary Performances from The Metropolitan Opera", and was very happy with the restoration. I believe Naxos did a great job too.



    Here is a quick sampling from the performance to show how much Martinelli feels the role (voice-over a film of Laurence Olivier):

    Last edited by silentio; Feb-12-2018 at 05:11.

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  20. #28
    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    My DVD choice although Morris is not ideal as Iago.
    You know, I just watched some of that performance on MetPlayer the other night and thought the same thing about James Morris' Iago. Normally, I like him in Italian roles (i.e., Wurm in Luisa Miller in a previous Met telecast); but as Iago he seemed clunky and uninspired. I'm also not so sure I like the role sung by a bass-baritone, which Morris undoubtedly is.

    My Otello DVD of choice is the Covent Garden one from 1991-1992, with Domingo, Te Kanawa, and Leiferkus.
    Last edited by Bellinilover; Feb-12-2018 at 03:05.

  21. #29
    Senior Member Sonata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentio View Post
    I am no fan of Domingo, so I will just skip a bunch of his performances.

    My treasured Otello's are live performances in general.

    Del Monaco tends to shout and be insensitive. In the "landmark" studio recording under Karajan, he is stiff as a board (so is Tebaldi). My preferred of his Otello's is a live performance with De Los Angeles/Leonard Warren conducted by Cleva.
    I love De Los Angeles' performance in Act IV. I don't have the recording of which you speak but I have the first 15 minutes of Act IV on a compilation and it's my favorite Desdemona
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    There are three artists, Giuseppe di Stefano, Giuseppe Taddei and Joan Sutherland whose portrayals, I would suggest, complement what we hear in complete sets – thought I'd share some ideas here... (Long post with links)

    Giuseppe di Stefano: There exists a rehearsal tape from pretty late in his career and it can be a pleasure to hear a native Italian singer, bright-voiced, who sings with verbal acuity and does not treat the archetypal character in a stereotypical way. At times he sounds properly angry, it is an intelligent assumption.
    Link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwaXR7bJnC8

    Vocally, di Stefano is at times unreliable and also apparently underprepared in 1966, according to Gobbi's autobiography, so there are mistakes. His studio recording of the duet with Rosanna Carteri was earlier and happier vocally – his timbre is beautiful here.
    Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9tkF01DEfM

    Given the proviso that di Stefano was not by nature an Alvaro, Calaf or Otello, his portrayal might provide a contrast to the relative rigidity of Martinelli, Del Monaco and Vickers and offer more personality than Cossutta and Domingo, even if all are more reliable vocally. "Nium mi tema" on DG is also available which I enjoy for its intensity
    Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17ksUEG9S60

    Giuseppe Taddei: While I'm a big fan of Tito Gobbi, I have some reservations about just how demonic he sounds throughout this opera. Giuseppe Taddei with his somewhat plusher baritone and sometimes subtler acting makes more sense to me: we are to believe that Iago is hidden in plain sight, plausibly friendly and trustworthy despite his inner demons. Taddei is fully equal to the part although, unfortunately, his Otello recordings are not consistently well cast. At least in 1972 it is stereo
    Link to Taddei in 1972: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40m5FFhXiOo
    “Roderigo, ebben, che pensi?” starts at 6m33, the Credo starts at 32m24

    Joan Sutherland: her 1960 recording of the Willow Song is, with Tebaldi, the closest I think we'll get to not just fulfilling the demands of the part but approaching the ideal suggested by Melba's recordings. She combines a bright timbre with superb quality and a forthright personality.
    Link to the Willow Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISGq6HhQ74U

    Much later, Sutherland's 1981 live recording is highly impressive for greater depth of tone and where she brings a good deal of dramatic smarts and welcome vocal size – I wish she had recorded this in digital sound rather than repeating Traviata or Norma.
    Link to 1981: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4dGiMp8n44

    The part often seems undercast to me, and a lyric soprano with a bright timbre often finds it hard-going e.g. Scotto for all her intelligence. I find Freni's Desdemona bit pallid, and I appreciate Rysanek but she was from a different school altogether.

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