Download program page

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Ireland Shakespeare forgeries wikipedia , lookup

Colorado Shakespeare Festival wikipedia , lookup

Shakespeare's handwriting wikipedia , lookup

Timeline of Shakespeare criticism wikipedia , lookup

Macbeth (opera) wikipedia , lookup

Minn Orch July 2016_Minnesota Orch 6/21/16 11:14 AM Page 39
Opera Finale: Verdi’s Otello
july 23
Minnesota Orchestra
Andrew Litton, conductor
Saturday, July 23, 2016, 7:30
Giuseppe Verdi
Orchestra Hall
Otello, complete opera in concert
Setting: On the island of Cyprus at the end of the 15th century
Act I: Outside of Otello’s castle on a stormy night, with a view of the harbor and the sea
Act II: A hall on the ground floor of the castle, near a garden
ca. 20’
Act III: The great hall of the castle
Act IV: Desdemona’s bedroom
Otello, a Cyprian general
Desdemona, Otello’s wife
Iago, Otello’s ensign
Cassio, Otello’s captain
Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s maid
Lodovico, the Venetian ambassador
Roderigo, a young Venetian
Montano, former governor of Cyprus
Carl Tanner, tenor
Barbara Shirvis, soprano
Stephen Powell, baritone
Eric Barry, tenor
Victoria Vargas, mezzo
Adam Lau, bass
David Blalock, tenor
Benjamin Sieverding, bass
Michael Schmidt, bass
Minnesota Chorale, Kathy Saltzman Romey, artistic director | Barbara Brooks, choral preparation
Minnesota Boychoir, Mark S. Johnson, artistic director
Robert Ainsley, rehearsal accompanist
Surtitles by Christopher Bergen
Performance time, including intermission, is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Andrew Litton’s profile appears on page 12; profiles and rosters of Minnesota Chorale and Minnesota Boychoir appear
on page 44; profiles of additional Otello performers are provided in an insert.
(Orchestra Hall Plus)
thank you
Concert Preview with Phillip Gainsley and Professor Amy Bolis
Saturday, July 23, 5:30 pm, Balcony A
Visit for details about pre- and post-concert musical performances
and “Experience Cafés” in the lobby.
Sommerfest is presented by U.S. Bank
Tonight’s concert is broadcast live on stations of Classical Minnesota Public Radio, including KSJN 99.5 FM in the Twin Cities.
Minn Orch July 2016_Minnesota Orch 6/21/16 11:14 AM Page 40
july 23
Program Notes
sung-through opera. Gone were the traditional arias, duets and
ensembles. Also remarkable is that Verdi and Boito knew their
Shakespeare only in translation to Italian. That the works capture
the Bard’s essence—a suggestion here, a double entendre
there—is a feat attributable mostly to Boito’s brilliance.
Giuseppe Verdi
Born: October 10, 1813, La Roncole, near Busseto, Italy
Died: January 27, 1901, Milan, Italy
ith the successful premiere of his Aida in 1871,
Giuseppe Verdi announced that “the account is settled,”
and anticipated retirement. The composer who in the 1850s had
given the world La Traviata, Il trovatore and Rigoletto—indeed
the composer whose very name was synonymous with opera—
believed that time had passed him by. Undeniably, many
audiences were looking elsewhere, including to Germany, where
Richard Wagner had ascended.
Verdi’s publisher, Giulio Ricordi, wasn’t so sure. One night in
1877, over dinner in Milan, Ricordi delicately suggested to Verdi
that he might attempt adapting Shakespeare’s Othello. Ricordi
suggested as a librettist the composer Arrigo Boito, who was
some 30 years Verdi’s junior. Boito was a modernist who had
publicly, not to say vulgarly, criticized the great Verdi.
Verdi was excited by the notion—having long admired Shakespeare
and adapted Macbeth much earlier in his career—and accepted
Ricordi’s suggestion. For his part, Boito acknowledged his earlier
lapse of judgment, and Verdi had all but forgiven him.
A decade elapsed between Verdi’s initial dinner meeting and the
premiere of Otello, and the long wait paid off with an unqualified
success. On the opening night of February 5, 1887, Milan was
ecstatic. Numerous encores, 20 curtain calls and shouts of “Viva
Verdi!” filled La Scala and later the Hotel Milano where Verdi
was residing.
The heartrending tale of the Cyprian general Otello, who is
turned murderously against his wife Desdemona by his
manipulative ensign Iago, became in one commentator’s words
“the crowning glory of Italian tragic opera.” The rapturous
response led Verdi and Boito to reunite in 1893 for another
Shakespearean opera, Falstaff.
Among the unique features of Otello is its musical structure: Verdi
departed from his style of the 1850s and composed Otello as a
the “missing” Shakespeare prologue. For the sake of brevity, Verdi’s
Otello, comprising four acts, excises the entire opening act of
Shakespeare’s five-act Othello. But the omitted material, which
sets in motion the events of Verdi’s opera, is worthy of summary.
In Shakespeare’s opening act, Othello (“Otello” in the Italian
translation), a Cyprian general of Moorish background, has
promoted Cassio to be his captain, much to the envy of his
ensign Iago. Meanwhile, a young Venetian named Roderigo has
fallen in love with Desdemona, the daughter of the Venetian
senator Brabantio. But word has spread that Desdemona has
eloped with Otello.
Iago provokes a stir in front of Desdemona’s house. Roderigo,
uttering racial slurs, announces to Desdemona’s father that
Otello has married his daughter. Brabantio concludes that his
daughter was a victim of Otello’s magic “charms” and “witchcraft.” Otello is summoned to the senate to defend himself
against charges of sorcery. There he expresses his true love for
Desdemona, who joins him before the senate. Otello, now
cleared, is appointed to defend Venice against the attacking
act I. Verdi’s opera opens with General Otello, victorious over
the Turks, returning to Cyprus. All but the embittered ensign
Iago cheer Otello’s victory. Iago confides in young Roderigo of
his secret hatred of Otello and promises to help Roderigo win
the general’s wife, Desdemona. In a drinking song, Iago
circulates a cup of wine. He urges Otello’s captain Cassio, whom
he knows cannot hold his alcohol, to consume. A drunken brawl
ensues, and Iago sends Roderigo to spread word of a revolt.
A stunned Otello appears and asks Iago the cause of this uproar;
Iago denies knowledge. Desdemona arrives, disturbed by the
commotion. Otello, upset at her distress, revokes Cassio’s
promotion. The crowd retreats, leaving alone Otello and
Desdemona. Together they recall Otello’s battles and
Desdemona’s love of him. The stirred Otello is passionate:
“Un bacio, ancora un bacio!” (“A kiss, another kiss!”)
act II. The disgraced Cassio converses with the dishonorable
Iago, who falsely pledges to help Cassio regain his former rank.
Desdemona is “the general’s general,” he says, so Cassio must
Minn Orch July 2016_Minnesota Orch 6/21/16 11:14 AM Page 41
Program Notes
take his cause to her. In a departure from Shakespeare’s play,
Iago, left alone, states his “Credo,” his only aria, summing up
his malevolence revealed in Shakespeare’s first act. He puts that
malice to work, and suggests to Otello by various word-games
that Desdemona is unfaithful, and that Cassio is her lover.
When Otello angrily succumbs to Iago’s accusations, the latter
reinforces them with a feigned caution of jealousy’s dangers.
Otello then demands proof of Desdemona’s infidelity.
Desdemona enters, surrounded by women of Cyprus, children
and sailors. They offer her flowers and sing to her. Otello is so
taken by the scene that he utters to himself, “If she be false to
me, then heaven mocks itself.” Cassio has enlisted Desdemona’s
assistance, following Iago’s suggestion, and now she pleads
Cassio’s case to Otello. Otello rejects her and becomes increasingly hostile. When Desdemona offers to wipe his brow with her
handkerchief, il fazzoletto (the one he gave to her “as my first
token of love”), he throws it to the ground. Emilia, Iago’s wife
and Desdemona’s maid, picks up the handkerchief. Seizing the
opportunity, Iago demands the handkerchief from Emilia, who
suspects he will use it mischievously.
Otello is delirious: He believes his wife true, but he believes her
false. Iago’s plan works perfectly as Otello forcefully dismisses
his newlywed. Iago is not finished. He now tells Otello that he
heard Cassio sleep-talking, uttering “Sweet Desdemona, let us
hide our love.” None of this is true, of course. Iago seals it all by
telling Otello that he has seen Cassio in possession of the
handkerchief Otello had given to Desdemona. The act ends with
Iago and Otello swearing vengeance.
act III. Preparations are being made to greet Lodovico, the
Venetian ambassador. But first, Desdemona pleads Otello to
pardon Cassio, to which Otello complains of the pain to his
forehead he suffered in the previous act. This time, though, he
asks for the handkerchief, rather than to discard it. Desdemona
offers a handkerchief, but it is not the handkerchief. Otello asks
what became of it, and when Desdemona says she does not have
it about her, he warns her: “Take heed! To lose it, or give it away,
were perdition!”—a significant response, given the references
to witchcraft in Shakespeare’s first act. Totally out of control,
Otello sees the “blackest of crimes on your lily forehead.”
Desdemona has no hint of the cause of her husband’s
july 23
tiously displays it to Otello. Otello needs no more proof; the
only question in his mind is how to kill Desdemona. Iago
responds that she should die in the bed where she “sinned.”
This choice so impresses the mad Otello that, there and then,
he promotes Iago to captain.
Otello announces the Duke’s proclamation that he has been
recalled to Venice. Cassio is named Otello’s successor in Cyprus,
thereby eliminating Iago. Iago, however, suggests to Roderigo
that, should anything befall Cassio, Otello and, of course,
Desdemona, he would need to remain in Cyprus. Roderigo sets
off to act on that suggestion. The die is cast: Roderigo will kill
Cassio; Otello will smother Desdemona. Otello orders everyone
away, and, with repeated cries of “il fazzoletto” (“the
handkerchief”) he collapses, unconscious. Iago sneers to all:
“Ecco il leone!” (“Here is your lion!”)
act IV. Desdemona, in her bedchambers, knows her fate as she
readies for bed, but still knows not the cause. Almost in rote,
she recites a story learned from her mother, the famed “Willow
Song.” She cries a pathetic farewell to Emilia. She recites the
Ave Maria. Upon her “Amen,” she falls asleep and Otello enters.
He kisses her once, again, and then again. When Desdemona
awakens, he asks her if she had offered her prayers, for she is
about to die a sinner. “Cassio is your lover!” he accuses. Her
denials are in vain. When she asks for Cassio to vouch for her,
Otello says that he has been forever silenced. “I am undone and
he is betrayed,” she cries. After further dreadful protests,
Desdemona is smothered. “As quiet as the grave,” observes
Emilia knocks frantically on the door, and from this point on, as
Iago’s scheme unravels, Verdi serially accompanies each character’s
unwitting involvement in this tragedy. When Iago is asked why
he engaged in this dreadful plot to prove the dying Desdemona
unfaithful, he responds, simply, “I thought her so.” Iago escapes,
and all that remains is for Otello to die at his own hand. His
final words: “Before I killed thee, wife, I kissed thee thus. Now
dying... in the shadow where I lie...a kiss...another
kiss...ah!...another kiss...”
Program note and synopsis by Phillip Gainsley. Visit to read an extended version of
this program note.
To comply with Otello’s demand for “proof,” Iago has arranged
to meet with Cassio, within Otello’s earshot. Iago slyly leads
Cassio to make certain utterances aloud, and even to laugh,
which the paranoid Otello assumes is at him. Then, Cassio
produces Desdemona’s handkerchief that he found innocently
in his quarters, placed there, we know, by Iago. Iago surreptiSOMMERFEST 2016