- World premiere
- Teatro alla Scala din Milano, 5 februarie 1887
- Romanian Opera Craiova Premiere
- 10 octombrie 2013
- Time Length
- aprox. 3h – două pauze
- Extra info
- Spectacol în limba italiană cu supratitrare în limba română
Opera in four acts composed by Giuseppe Verdi.
Libretto by Arrigo Boito based on the famous play Othello by English playwright William Shakespeare.
The action takes place in Cyprus, at the end of the 15th century.
The inhabitants of the Cyprus island occupied by Venetians, such as Cassio and Iago, two officers of Otello, the Moor (Arab) governor of the island, Desdemona, his beautiful wife, Roderigo, a young Venetian nobleman and Montano, a local, stand by the sea. They are impatiently waiting for the return of Otello’s ship, who had fought a long fight with the Turks. A storm begins. The ship appears in the horizon, but has difficulties in approaching the shore. It finally arrives and, acclaimed by the crowd, Otello disembarks and announces their victory over the Turks. The crowd cheers, but two people look at Otello in enmity: Roderigo, in love with Desdemona and Iago, who hates his commander to death because he had not been promoted to the rank he thought he deserved. A bonfire is lit and the party begins. Without being suspected by anyone, Iago plots a diabolic plan, aiming at destroying Otello. He consoles Roderigo, advising him not to lose hope of fulfilling his dreams of love. Then, the same Iago entices Cassio to have one drink after another, though the young captain is soon supposed to be on the watch. Iago slyly calls the attention of nobleman Montano on Cassio’s condition and calls Roderigo to laugh at the intoxicated man. The two young people fight, but their quarrel is interrupted by the appearance of Otello and Desdemona. Harshly judging Cassio, the governor fires him. The crowd goes away. Now alone, Otello and Desdemona lovingly hold one another.
Since he was unable to obtain his master’s forgiveness, Cassio asks for Iago’s advice and, upon his suggestion, appeals to Desdemona. Happy that everything is going according to his plan, Iago voices his stable faith in the forces of evil, villainy and lie. Cassio approaches Desdemona and asks her to help him obtain Otello’s forgiveness. The two people are seen by the Moor, whose jealousy is stirred by the carefully placed words of Iago. The inhabitants of Cyprus offer flowers and gifts to Desdemona. Smiling, she approaches Otello and directly asks that he should be more lenient to Cassio. Otello coarsely refuses. Casualty helps Iago. His wife, Emilia, has found a beautiful handkerchief that Desdemona had received from her husband and had lost. The disappearance of this handkerchief is turned by Iago into the most powerful weapon to take Otello down. “I’ve heard Cassio pronounce Desdemona’s name in his sleep!” Iago whispers to Otello. “Cassio has the handkerchief you gave to your wife!” he continues. Otello suffers terribly and is ready to take revenge on the woman who betrayed him. Pretending to be submissive and devoted, Iago obliges himself to prove another clear evidence of Desdemona’s betrayal.
Uncertainty torments Otello. Without suspecting anything, Desdemona again asks that Cassio should be forgiven. Otello has a fit of jealousy and asks Desdemona to show him the handkerchief he had given her. She does not know where the handkerchief is. Haunted by the suspicions, Otello offends her and is deaf to her attempts at proving her innocence. Iago plots something else: he proposes to Otello to lie in hiding and overhear a conversation between him and Cassio. In love with Bianca, but without saying her name, the young commander talks to Iago about his love meetings: Iago makes sure that Otello believes that the woman Cassio is so easily talking about is Desdemona. Moreover, Iago had slipped Desdemona’s handkerchief to Cassio’s room, and now the man is holding it in his hand. Otello is convinced: Desdemona has cheated on him. A messenger of the Venetian Senate, Lodovico, announces Otello that he has been called to participate in the great council of the Republic. While he is absent, Cassio will replace the governor of Cyprus. In the presence of the ambassadors, Otello can no longer refrain himself and insults his wife. Iago’s victory is complete. During the upcoming night, Roderigo will kill Cassio, and Desdemona will die, too.
In her room, Desdemona is getting ready to go to bed. Tormented by bad feelings, she remembers a song she had listened in her childhood, the willow song. Waiting for her husband, the young woman says a prayer, then falls asleep. Otello comes, determined to kill the woman who has betrayed his love and trust. Nothing can stop him. Desdemona dies as she says: “I am innocent!”. Agitated, Emilia comes to let her masters know that, mortally wound in the fight with Cassio, Roderigo has disclosed all the plans of Iago. She is appalled to discover the body of Desdemona. Cassio, Iago and Lodovico come, intrigued by her screams. In front of everyone, Emilia confesses what she knows about the plot surrounding the lost handkerchief. Otello commands that Iago should be arrested and, then, stabbing himself, crashes next to the woman who died innocent.
*Grigore Constantinescu & Daniela Caraman-Fotea, Ghid de operă, Bucharest, 1971
**Ana Buga & Cristina Maria Sârbu, 4 secole de teatru muzical, Bucharest, 1999
***Ioana Ștefănescu, O istorie a muzicii universale, Vol. IV, Bucharest, 2002