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Resplendent Performances

Verdi's Otello launches
English National Opera's 2014-15 season
in David Alden's new production,
reported by MALCOLM MILLER


Otello, Verdi's first 'late' opera, matches the inspiration of a Shakespearian interpretation of the human condition through its penetrating character studies, its philosophical perspectives and its innovative use of language — in Verdi's case, the language of nineteenth century opera at the cusp of modern verismo. Launching English National Opera's 2014-15 season on what is also the four hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Shakespeare's birth is a new David Alden interpretation, a co-production with the Royal Swedish Opera and Teatro Real, Madrid, which scores high in its ability to bring to life these qualities in a challenging and contemporary fashion.

Marking the thirtieth anniversary of Alden's directing at ENO, this Otello is underpinned by a concept to 'challenge stereotypes': notably the racial slighting of the Moor which infuses the original text. A non-black Otello, Alden's startling iconoclastic innovation, is here engineered by making the Moor into a 'converted assimilated Muslim' yet Alden nevertheless succeeds in universalising him, through the fine acting and singing of Stuart Skelton, as an individual torn between sensitivity and brutishness, increasingly infiltrated by the jealous destructiveness planted by Iago, a fiercely convincing Jonathan Summers...

Copyright © 21 October 2014 Malcolm Miller,
London UK








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