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Thread: Verdi on disc - Otello

  1. #31
    Senior Member Sonata's Avatar
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    I'm contemplating one of these two sets: I keep going back and forth. They are both right around 14$
    The first is Jonas Kaufmann's portrayal on the Pappano set. Because I am a big Kaufmann fan



    The second is the production with Sonya Yoncheva as Desdemona. This production has had some very good reviews, and the cover is very visually appealing


    What say you?
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  3. #32
    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonata View Post
    I'm contemplating one of these two sets: I keep going back and forth. They are both right around 14$
    The first is Jonas Kaufmann's portrayal on the Pappano set. Because I am a big Kaufmann fan



    The second is the production with Sonya Yoncheva as Desdemona. This production has had some very good reviews, and the cover is very visually appealing


    What say you?
    The Kaufmann set, the other didn't satisfied me despite the marvellous conducting by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

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  5. #33
    Senior Member Belowpar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbebleu View Post
    My first Verdi opera and still my favourite. I have a few versions so I'll need to go and have a think about which, if any, is a favourite.

    Having had a while to reflect I've narrowed it down to three. Vickers with Serafin, McCracken with Barbirolli and Vinay with Toscanini.
    Toscanini's Otello was my introduction and I’ve never heard anything better. (Also own Vickers and Domingo) I first heard this ‘live’ on the Radio as it was originally conceived. Chosen as the one version for the BBC by Julian Budden, the most eloquent student of Verdi’s music. And whilst the singers aren’t the biggest stars it all came together in this performance, conducted of course by the second Cellist at its La Scala premier. It explodes and then cackles and fisses with energy. I listened to it again recently and was once again knocked sideways.

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  7. #34
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    This French box, between other operas, includes the Toscanini Otello. I didn't like it in my first listen... but it's reknowed for Ramón Vinay.


  8. #35
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonata View Post
    I'm contemplating one of these two sets: I keep going back and forth. They are both right around 14$
    The first is Jonas Kaufmann's portrayal on the Pappano set. Because I am a big Kaufmann fan



    The second is the production with Sonya Yoncheva as Desdemona. This production has had some very good reviews, and the cover is very visually appealing


    What say you?
    Must confess I was less than overwhelmed by Kaufmann when I saw the live broadcast at the cinema. Partly it was the production but partly because Kaufmann's Otello appeared to be more of a work in progress. I know it's not a PC thing to say but I can never understand this reluctance to darken the skin. The work centres about a Moor (he is referred to as a black man in the text) married to a white woman. Partly the work - certainly Shakespeare's - is about racism and the prejudice towards this man because he is black. Hence I can never see why an actor (the Greek word means 'mask') cannot act as a black man. I'm not talking about the disrespectful 'black and white minstrels' type - that is relic of the last century - but at least Otello looking the part.
    Last edited by DavidA; Aug-04-2018 at 16:02.

  9. #36
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Must confess I was less than overwhelmed by Kaufmann when I saw the live broadcast at the cinema. Partly it was the production but partly because Kaufmann's Otello appeared to be more of a work in progress. I know it's not a PC thing to say but I can never understand this reluctance to darken the skin. The work centres about a Moor (he is referred to as a black man in the text) married to a white woman. Partly the work - certainly Shakespeare's - is about racism and the prejudice towards this man because he is black. Hence I can never see why an actor (the Greek word means 'mask') cannot act as a black man. I'm not talking about the disrespectful 'black and white minstrels' type - that is relic of the last century - but at least Otello looking the part.
    I know lots of people that disagree with this view and consider "blackfacing" utterly racist and insulting. In fact, I was quite happy that this production didn't blacken Kaufmann's face because finally I wouldn't have to hide my favourite Otello with Levine (sic) and Plácido Domingo with blackface on the cover, because from now on no production would blackface any Otello or Aida (I don't know what was the regie director thinking when she agreed to darken Netrebko's skin in Aida).

    I can't explain as well as the activists I follow how "blackfacing" harms the opportunities of ethnic minorities to play these demanding works. I would argue that this issue was never considered by the composers and not until recently by stage directors because of the colonial eras and stuff during the twentieth century.

    I do prefer to promote and like music genres that identify with these minorities more than a predominantly white and elitist way of performing and consuming music (Opera). As long as we fight against discrimination of people that want to learn instruments or voice and handpick the ones ready for the most demanding roles (like Parsifal, Otello, first violin, tuba, etc.) it's fine I guess.

    Not angry at all with you, DavidA It's just so tough to work it out even for myself...

  10. #37
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    I know lots of people that disagree with this view and consider "blackfacing" utterly racist and insulting. In fact, I was quite happy that this production didn't blacken Kaufmann's face because finally I wouldn't have to hide my favourite Otello with Levine (sic) and Plácido Domingo with blackface on the cover, because from now on no production would blackface any Otello or Aida (I don't know what was the regie director thinking when she agreed to darken Netrebko's skin in Aida).

    I can't explain as well as the activists I follow how "blackfacing" harms the opportunities of ethnic minorities to play these demanding works. I would argue that this issue was never considered by the composers and not until recently by stage directors because of the colonial eras and stuff during the twentieth century.

    I do prefer to promote and like music genres that identify with these minorities more than a predominantly white and elitist way of performing and consuming music (Opera). As long as we fight against discrimination of people that want to learn instruments or voice and handpick the ones ready for the most demanding roles (like Parsifal, Otello, first violin, tuba, etc.) it's fine I guess.

    Not angry at all with you, DavidA It's just so tough to work it out even for myself...
    Yes I do know this. I cannot honestly think of the logic behind it. I think it derives from an over-reaction from how black people were portrayed by people like Al Jolson and the Black and White Minstrels. At the time it didn't occur too any of us, least of all my family who loved it, that it could be considered racist. Of course, we would take a different view today, but it's one thing to have an actor playing a caricature and another a serious performance of a noble Moor discriminated against. Interesting that one (black) actor playing Othello (Shakespeare) commented on how difficult the part is for a black man as Shakespeare wrote it assuming a white man would play it. Same of course with Verdi. And another problem - Othello the play is often played by an African-American. But he is not. He is a Moor! A rather different race. So where do we stop? I mean, should Butterfly only be sung by Japanese singers? Should Turandot be reserved only for Chinese? Interesting that in a recent Othello done by the RSC Iago was played by by black man. But isn't this racist too? Discriminating against white actors?
    Funny when I visit Africa and mention matters like this to my friends there they look at me in amazement at how PC we are in wrestling with issues like this!

    I don't think you are angry at all, btw. Your post comes across as completely courteous. But I like you find it somewhat tough.
    Last edited by DavidA; Aug-04-2018 at 21:25.

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  12. #38
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    I'm coming to the conclusion that the performance below is my favorite recording overall:

    1980 ROH Kleiber, with Domingo, Margaret Price, and Silvano Carroli - the full thing is on YouTube starting below.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3EkjVT_hhg

    Pretty decent stereo sound, apparently recorded from a contemporary BBC radio broadcast. Live staged performance, so there's stage noise, but the audience is pretty unobtrusive--they don't burst into applause after every showpiece or get into noisy arguments unlike the La Scala audience in 1978.

    There are multiple sources, apparently--the version I have has slightly fuller, more vivid sound than the source used for this youtube, but also has a lot more tape problems--several 10 to 30 second segments that crackle and distort. I got mine from House of Opera awhile back. It's also available on PremiereOpera Italy, but no idea whether that's the same source as the House of Opera one, the YouTube one, or another altogether.

    Domingo is even better here than the 1976 La Scala performance. Kleiber leads a performance that isn't quite as white hot as that La Scala one, but the massive gain in sound quality here versus the La Scala is worth the trade off. I've not heard a Desdemona performance that can touch Price's here, a more vivid and touching one than the one she delivers on the Solti studio recording.

    Probably the biggest flaw is Carroli, who is way over the top with the villainy. Not a great Iago performance but at he definitely can't be accused of being boring.

  13. #39
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    I recently acquired the Toscanini with high hopes (having got Falstaff) but I'm somewhat disappointed. Of course, the maestro performed the work under Verdi so this performance has a unique historical importance. But as to the cast, I don't go into raptures about Vinay's Otello as it is rather baritonal and lacks a true cutting top that tenors like Vickers and Domingo have. More seriously from an audio point of view is the fact that it is almost identical in sound to Valdengo's Iago, so it's difficult to hear which of them is actually singing, unless you are following with a libretto. As for Nelli's Desdemona, it is pretty pale in tone, some pretty moments aside. Just compare her with Scotto or Tebaldi. So great conducting with a flawed cast.

  14. #40
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    But as to the cast, I don't go into raptures about Vinay's Otello as it is rather baritonal
    You are probably aware that Vinay began (and finished) his career as a baritone. He didn't make the switch to tenor roles until his late 20's, and sang mostly Otello and the lower Wagnerian tenor roles (Siegmund and Tristan). I don't think that he ever sounded much like a tenor, and his sound reminds me of Jonas Kaufman's (or vice versa). One of my favorite Vinay recordings is his Telramund in 1962 at Bayreuth.

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  16. #41
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    You are probably aware that Vinay began (and finished) his career as a baritone. He didn't make the switch to tenor roles until his late 20's, and sang mostly Otello and the lower Wagnerian tenor roles (Siegmund and Tristan).
    I'm a supporter of his 52 Tristan performance, but what was in Wieland Wagner's head to cast him as Parsifal for so many seasons? He puts me off so much.

    I'm yet to listen someday to the Salzburg Otello conducted by Furtwängler and sung by Vinay too.

  17. #42
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    You are probably aware that Vinay began (and finished) his career as a baritone. He didn't make the switch to tenor roles until his late 20's, and sang mostly Otello and the lower Wagnerian tenor roles (Siegmund and Tristan). I don't think that he ever sounded much like a tenor, and his sound reminds me of Jonas Kaufman's (or vice versa). One of my favorite Vinay recordings is his Telramund in 1962 at Bayreuth.
    Quite right. Domingo, of course, started off as a tenor and still sounds like a tenor even when singing baritone roles. Something about the quality of voice. I can't accept the assertion by some people that Vinay was the greatest ever Otello. A fine artist, yes, but his voice just wasn't;t quite right. No ringing top.

  18. #43
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Quite right. Domingo, of course, started off as a tenor and still sounds like a tenor even when singing baritone roles.
    While I agree with you about Domingo's sound, he also began his career as a baritone, although he started singing tenor roles before he was 20.

    A lot of tenors begin as baritones - Siegfried Jerusalem, James King, and Carlo Bergonzi among them. Not to mention Lauritz Melchior.

  19. #44
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granate View Post
    I'm yet to listen someday to the Salzburg Otello conducted by Furtwängler and sung by Vinay too.
    It's obviously quite different from Toscanini's, but has similar casting issues.

  20. #45
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    While I agree with you about Domingo's sound, he also began his career as a baritone, although he started singing tenor roles before he was 20.

    A lot of tenors begin as baritones - Siegfried Jerusalem, James King, and Carlo Bergonzi among them. Not to mention Lauritz Melchior.
    Yes agreed. I don't know too much about the techniques of singing but my wife started as an alto but became a soprano with lessons. She had part of her voice she wasn't using.

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