Giuseppe Verdi

Otello

The Met season opens with Verdi’s masterful Otello, inspired by Shakespeare’s play and matching it in tragic intensity. Director Bartlett Sher probes the Moor’s dramatic downfall with an outstanding cast: tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko plays the doomed Otello; new soprano star Sonya Yoncheva sings Desdemona, Otello’s innocent wife and victim; and baritone Željko Lučić plays the evil Iago, who masterminds Otello’s demise. Dynamic maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

Production a gift of Jacqueline Desmarais, in memory of Paul G. Desmarais Sr.

Read Full Synopsis
  • Sung In
  • Italian
  • Met Titles In
  • English
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Estimated Run Time
  • 2 hrs 57 mins
  • House Opens
  • Act I & II 73 mins
  • Intermission 30 mins
  • Act III & IV 75 mins
  • Opera Ends
Sep 21 - May 6 Buy Tickets from $27 Gala Event

Cast

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TBA

Performing

All Dates
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World premiere: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 1887. Met company premiere: Chicago (on tour), November 23, 1891. Often cited as Italian opera’s greatest tragedy, Otello is a miraculous union of music and drama, a masterpiece as profound philosophically as it is thrilling theatrically. Shakespeare’s tale of an outsider, a great hero who can’t control his jealousy, was carefully molded by the librettist Arrigo Boito into a taut and powerful opera text. Otello almost wasn’t written: following the success of Aida and his setting of the Requiem mass in the early 1870s, Verdi considered himself retired, and it took Boito and publisher Giulio Ricordi several years to persuade him to take on a major new work.

Creators

In an extraordinary career spanning six decades in the theater, Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) composed 28 operas, at least half of which are at the core of today’s repertoire. His role in Italy’s cultural and political development has made him an icon in his native country. Arrigo Boito (1842–1918), the librettist of Otello, was also a composer (his opera Mefistofele, based on Goethe’s Faust, premiered in 1868), as well as a journalist and critic.

Production Bartlett Sher

Set Designer Es Devlin

Costume Designer Catherine Zuber

Lighting Designer Donald Holder

Projection Designer Luke Halls

Composer

Giuseppe Verdi

Setting

The opera is set on the island of Cyprus in the late 15th century. The island itself represents an outpost of a European power (Venice) under constant attack from an encroaching, hostile adversary (the Turkish Empire). In a sense, the setting echoes Otello’s outsider status: he is a foreigner (a “Moor,” an uncertain term applied indiscriminately at that time to North African Arabs, black Africans, and others) surrounded by suspicious Europeans. The Met’s new production updates the setting to the late 19th century, where the action unfolds in a shape-shifting glass palace.

Music

The score of Otello is remarkable for its overall intensity and dramatic insight rather than the memorable solo numbers that made Verdi’s earlier works so popular. The latter are present most notably in Desdemona’s Willow Song and haunting “Ave Maria” in the last act and the baritone’s “Credo” at the start of Act II. Throughout the score, the orchestra plays a diverse role unprecedented in Italian opera, beginning with the impressive opening storm scene, in which the power of nature is depicted with full forces, including an organ, playing at the maximum possible volume.

Met History

Giuseppe Verdi wrote the title role of Otello—one of the most demanding in the repertoire—for Italian tenor Francesco Tamagno, who starred in the 1887 world premiere and went on to perform the opera 13 times at the Met in the 1894–95 season. Outstanding Met Otellos of the past 120 years have included Leo Slezak, Giovanni Martinelli, Ramón Vinay, Mario Del Monaco, James McCracken, Jon Vickers, and Plácido Domingo.