Sunday Morning Opera: Otello


Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 5.58.09 PMIf you want to know why we are baritone junkies, well, um…okay, it’s about the voice, right?

The Met Season opens on September 21 with Otello.  We were all crossing our fingers that Dmitri Hvorostovsky would be doing Iago, which was the title Verdi originally wanted for the opera. Unfortunately, the truly repulsive Željko Lučić is doing Iago. I wish I understood why Peter Gelb insists on using truly sub-par baritones when he has access to an embarrassment of riches. Instead he keeps shoving the likes of a  Željko Lučić and a Peter Mattei at us when we could have Hvorostovsky, who to be fair, will be singing (THANK GOD!) a couple nights later. I just don’t get Gelb’s approach to baritones.

Playing Desdemona that night will be Sonya Yoncheva.  She is the next big one.  The voice is lush, and, in my humble opinion, far superior to  Anna Netrebko, who will be doing Trovatore with our favorite baritone.  Yoncheva has a touch of Bubbles in her voice.  I just don’t think Netrebko’s voice is wearing well.  Thank heavens we aren’t going to have Sondra Radvanovsky shoved in our face while Dmitri is performing.  I just don’t like her voice.  Sorry, but I don’t.  As for the tenor doing Otello, do we even care? It’s a tenor. We are strictly baritones & bases – you  know – the men.

Of course we start out with the greatest of them all – Sherrill Milnes!

I was there that night! It was amazing. I still have the framed poster for the performance, somewhere.

The video sucks, but the voice is what counts!

I think Jussi Björling was a wonderful tenor. There, I said something nice about a tenor.

and… we end with prayers.

My favorite performance of Otello took place when the Met was still doing its yearly tour. On Monday night, the great Richard Cassilly did Tannhauser. His Tannhauser was so amazing, I don’t know if I want to see another – and it is one of my very favorite operas. I forget who was doing Otello the following night. It doesn’t matter. What was important was Sherrill Milnes was doing Iago. The tenor pulled out and Cassilly pinch hit. It was the stuff of legend.


One thought on “Sunday Morning Opera: Otello

  1. I’ll admit- considering this season’s Trovatore, seeing that Yonghoon Lee will be Manrico is a plus. Have you seen how great Lee and Dima work together? The Met’s recent Don Carlo (earlier this spring) showed these two have great dramatic compatibility.

    Normally, tenors are less than a favorite of mine, but Lee is a cut above the rest- much like Kauffman.

    (I can’t access live performances, so my only way to see these is through the Met’s HD’s transmission broadcasted in cinemas and on television.)

    Why, I can’t fathom, were two sub-par performances of the Met’s Rigoletto and Simon Boccanegra, recorded with Lucic(Rigoletto) and Domingo(Boccnegra) when Dima actually was casted in both these roles on alternating dates?

    Can you imagine how stunning it would have been to see his Rigoletto finally captured or his Boccanegra? (At least we have his regal Boccanegra on audio recording now…)

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