Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Otello. It was last on stage 21 June—15 July 2017 as part of the Summer 2016/17 season.
Iago sows the seeds of jealousy in Otello’s mind, fabricating a story of an affair between Iago’s rival Cassio and Otello’s young wife Desdemona. Iago’s trickery cements Otello’s suspicion into mistaken certainty.
Otello murders the innocent Desdemona. Confessions by Iago’s accomplices – including his unknowing wife Emilia – lead to the revelation of Iago’s plot. Appalled by the wrong he has committed, Otello kills himself.
Otello is Verdi’s final tragedy. After astonishing productivity in his early career, the composer slowed in later life; more than fifteen years separate Otello and its predecessor, Aida, although Verdi revised his earlier works Simon Boccanegra and Don Carlo in the interim. He was lured out of retirement by the composer and librettist Arrigo Boito, who tempted him with a proposal that was very close to Verdi’s heart: Shakespeare’s Othello. Boito adapted the libretto from Shakespeare’s play, with much intervention from Verdi. As the latest utterance from the master of Italian opera, the 1887 premiere was an instant success – but, more than that, Otello has been an important part of the international opera repertory ever since.
The Italian musical landscape had changed during Verdi’s period of isolation, with many of his compatriots finding inspiration in foreign operatic innovations. Verdi responds in Otello with music that looks back to the traditional forms and structures of Italian opera, but which carries an unmistakably different dramatic thrust and fluidity, in response to Shakespeare’s text. The results are thrilling: from the violent storm that opens the opera through to Iago’s blood-chilling Credo and Otello’s increasingly desperate duets with Desdemona. Keith Warner (Wozzeck, Der Ring des Nibelungen) directs a new production of this masterpiece, The Royal Opera’s first in 30 years.
News and features
13 October 2017
Jonas Kaufmann's role debut will be available to watch on BBC Four, and afterwards on BBC iPlayer.
28 June 2017
The Royal Opera's final live cinema relay of the 2016/17 Season saw Jonas Kaufmann tackling one of Italian opera's most challenging roles.
28 June 2017
After tempestuous beginnings, this partnership brought the master of Italian opera out of retirement to write the magnificent final works Otello and Falstaff.
26 June 2017
Join Jonas Kaufmann as he makes his role debut in Verdi’s thrilling Shakespeare-inspired opera.
22 June 2017
Audience responses and press reviews of Jonas Kaufmann's hotly-anticipated role debut.
20 June 2017
Our favourites of the undisputed kings of opera, from Idomeneo to Peter Grimes via Siegfried and Otello.