Otello, Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Two cheers for the leads - but save the roar for the chorus
Sunday 31 July 2005
Hall's production is set in the Napoleonic era, with hints of the Louisiana Delta in the humid elegance of John Gunter's louvred panopticon. It is a highly competent, clear-eyed show that makes one marvel at the poor judgement Hall displayed in this year's flat Cenerentola. The most potent image comes in the first scene, when the chorus hoist an effigy of a defeated Turk - complete with a crescent moon flag - and burn it; showing how quickly Otello's adopted society will turn against a man whose skin is darker than their own. Seen last weekend, it was genuinely shocking.
As with the recent Covent Garden revival, the most pressing reason for seeing this Otello is not Otello. David Rendall's moor is impressive but far from incendiary, while Tatiana Monogarova is too vital and knowing to make sense of Desdemona's innocence. As Iago, Anthony Michaels-Moore sings with inimitable fluency and focus but creates no suspense. It is instead the supporting cast that excels - Jean Rigby's helpless Emilia, Alfred Boe's beleaguered Cassio, and Matthew Beale's resentful Roderigo - and an electric performance from Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra that seals the deal. The chorus are, quite simply, magnificent.
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