Verdi: Otello

Jealousy and madness conspire to reach tragic ends in Verdi’s late, great take on Shakespeare. Otello, to a gripping libretto by Arrigo Boito, strips away the sham of power and nobility to reveal deeply human characters with all-too-common flaws and fears. Andrea Bocelli takes on arguably the biggest challenge of his career in the shape of the opera’s title role, moving into heavyweight tenor territory without losing his distinctive lyrical sound and trademark expressivity. He’s at his best in the psychologically complex duets with Marina Rebeka’s beautifully sung Desdemona and the distress and despair of “Dio! mi potevi scagliar”. The recording’s dramatic force registers fully in Verdi’s big set pieces, spurred on by Massimo Cavalletti’s implacable Iago, full-blooded choral singing and playing, and conductor Steven Mercurio’s unflagging yet flexible direction.

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