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An Unusual Production

Verdi's 'Otello' at Los Angeles Opera,
reviewed by MARIA NOCKIN


Giuseppe Verdi, who lived from 1813 to 1901, was fond of William Shakespeare's dramas. In 1847, he composed Macbeth and he planned on setting other operas based on plays by the English bard. For many years, however, he looked in vain for the perfect librettist. It was not until he was introduced to Arrigo Boito (1842-1918), who was almost thirty years his junior, that he found a writer he could work with. Boito was not only a librettist, but also a composer and his 1868 opera Mefistofele is still occasionally produced. In 1871, he wrote the book for Amilcare Ponchielli's La Gioconda under the pseudonym Tobbia Gorrio. Later, he helped Verdi revise Simon Boccanegra.

The chorus in Los Angeles Opera's 'Otello'. Photo © 2008 Robert Millard
The chorus in Los Angeles Opera's 'Otello'. Photo © 2008 Robert Millard

Boito worked on Otello during 1879 but Verdi did not. After a while, a rumor began to circulate hinting that Boito might like to compose the opera himself. It was untrue, but it made Verdi delay his work. He did not complete the vocal score until 1885. The orchestration was finished in 1886 and the opera was finally premièred at La Scala in Milan on 1 February 1887.

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Copyright © 2 March 2008 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA


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