23 May 2017 at 11.00am | 2 Comments
'It's an Everest for a conductor... It's beautifully put together, and yet it remains one of the biggest challenges for any musician'.
Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera House, has conducted Verdi's Otello numerous times but, as reflected in this archive clip, remains in awe of the incredible sophistication of the opera's orchestral score and the way in which it uses 'simple' techniques to reflect complex emotions.
In the opening scene, the people of Cyprus are watching a stormy sea battle between the Turkish army and the Cypriot forces, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Otello, their new governor. Given that the battle scene takes place offstage, Verdi relied on his music to influence the audience's perception of the storm and battle and to illustrate its scale:
'The people of Cyprus see Otello and this battle in the distance... We don't see it, but the fact that we don't creates an even greater image'.
The composer plunges the audience into the raging storm with a sound-world that conjures lightening and thick fog, as well as the watching crowd's feelings of uncertainty and fear. Pappano describes this clever combination of simple melodies as 'the economy of means', something which carries through to the best-known theme in the opera: the love theme at the end of Act 1 which uses beautiful harmonies and subtle patterns to create the feeling of being overwhelmed by happiness.
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Otello runs 21 June—15 July 2017 . Tickets are still available for some performances.
This production is staged with generous support from Rolex, and with generous philanthropic support from Lord and Lady Laidlaw, Mrs Susan A. Olde OBE, Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Alfiya and Timur Kuanyshev, Mr and Mrs Baha Bassatne, John G. Turner & Jerry G. Fischer, Ian and Helen Andrews, Mercedes T. Bass, Maggie Copus, Mrs Trevor Swete, Beth Madison, John McGinn and Cary Davis, the Otello Production Syndicate, The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund and an anonymous donor.