IN ITALIAN composer Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Otello the focus shifts slightly from the main characters, the Moor of Venice and his wife Desdemona, to the nefarious plotter Iago. Unlike in the Shakespearian Othello, this Iago “needs no strong motive for doing evil – he commits evil for evil’s sake”, states the bulletin accompanying the opera currently being staged by the Slovak National Theatre (SND). Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the entire opera comes at the end when Iago contentedly watches as a jealous and half-mad Othello learns the truth about how he was deceived into killing his wife and then commits suicide. After the climax, Iago calmly stands up, walks into the audience and casually takes a seat. The notion that evil is not always an obvious threat or only an onstage monster – but perhaps your rather inconspicuous neighbour – can send goosebumps down your spine.
Otello, a late work by Verdi, was written by Arrigo Boito and inspired by Othello, The Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare. It is one of five operas to be premiered in the SND’s 2011/2012 season and its premiere was held on October 21. On the opening evening, the title character was played by WeiLong Tao of the Singapore Lyric Opera, Adriana Kohútková had the role of Desdemona and Dalibor Jenis was in the role of Iago, the dark side of human character. Quite a few artists from outside the SND ensemble were hired for the production: all the actors playing Otello (Tao, Michal Lehotský and Ernesto Grisales) are guest performers, as are another Iago (Zoltán Vongrey) and another Desdemona (Eva Šušková). The music was arranged by Ondrej Lenárd, who is one of the alternating conductors along with Martin Leginus, and Jozef Prúdek is the director.
The premiere was attended by Marios S. Kountourides, the ambassador to Slovakia from the Republic of Cyprus. The original site of the medieval drama is the town of Famagusta on the island of Cyprus that has been divided between a Turkish part and a Greek part for the past 37 years. A photographic exhibit which opened on the evening of the first premiere offers views of the town “before” and “after” the division and can be viewed until November 10 in the Blue Lounge of the new SND building at Pribinova 17 one hour before each evening performance.
31. Oct 2011 at 0:00 | Zuzana Vilikovská