Verdi: Otello - Foster
PentaTone Classics PTC 5186 562 (2 discs)
Classical - Opera
Nikolai Schukoff (Otello)
Melody Moore (Desdemona)
Lester Lynch (Iago)
Kevin Short (Cassio)
Gulbenkian Orchestra and Chorus
Lawrence Foster (conductor)
The opera Otello by Giuseppe Verdi and Arrigo Boito not only represents the outstanding result of an intensely fruitful creative collaboration between composer and librettist, but also one of the most important core works in the opera repertoire. With his musical setting of Shakespeare’s play, the composition of which took him several years, Verdi also achieved a new level of quality within the framework of his operatic oeuvre. His path was resolute and consistent, leading him away from structured numbers of arias, recitatives and ensembles, and towards the through-composed, large-scale dramatic form. All this based on the timeless literary foundation of Shakespeare's play.
This drama is supported by music that, especially in the depths of the orchestral scoring, subtly penetrates the psyche of the characters, without ruthlessly dissecting them. Music that, despite its magic of its refined tones, never brushes aside the greatest priority of the Italian opera: the human voice. In Otello, Verdi succeeded in forging his own path to “music-drama as a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk,’ as a perfect synthesis of action and music.”
Leading the prestigious Gulbenkian Orchestra in this ambitious studio recording is the dynamic and experienced conductor Lawrence Foster, who has previously made impressive recordings of other operas for Pentatone: a highly praised recording of Strauss’s Zigeunerbaron (= gipsy baron) and Getty’s Usher House. The singers of the three main roles – Otello, Iago, and Desdemona – already met in 2014 for the Pentatone complete recording of Getty’s The Little Match Girl.
Melody Moore, Nikolai Schukoff, and Lester Lynch recorded these roles for the first time. First and foremost, Melody Moore, who is one of the most promising American singers of her generation. In her first recording of an Italian opera for Pentatone, she demonstrates that her truly youthful dramatic soprano voice is able to flawlessly continue the pure Italian tradition of a Renata Tebaldi. The Austrian tenor Nikolai Schukoff once again widens his professional range, singing the demanding title role of Otello with ardent intensity – for the first time, by the way, in the production at hand. As his abysmally evil opponent, the American baritone Lester Lynch matches him in vocal intensity.
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