Live Cinema Season

Otello (2017)

Recorded | Opera

Running time: About 3 hours 10 minutes, including one interval

Otello (2017)

Jonas Kaufmann makes his role debut as Otello in Keith Warner’s new production of Verdi’s thrilling Shakespeare-inspired opera, conducted by Antonio Pappano.


The story

The treacherous ensign Iago vows to destroy the Moorish general Otello. He hatches a plot to disgrace Otello’s captain Cassio, then hints to Otello that Cassio and Otello’s young wife Desdemona are having an affair.

Iago’s insinuations, coupled with Desdemona’s innocent pleas for Cassio’s pardon, convince Otello that his wife has betrayed him. His perceptions increasingly warped by jealousy, Otello decides that there is only one thing that he can do: kill his wife to restore his honour.


Light and dark, good and evil: Keith Warner’s production focuses on the violent conflicts at the core of Otello’s story. Boris Kudlicka’s semi-abstract sets and Kaspar Glarner’s costumes mirror the contrasting innocence of Desdemona and malevolence of Iago. Warner sensitively examines the relationships between Moors, Turks and Westerners in Shakespeare’s time to highlight Otello feeling an outsider in his society, which contributes to his loss of confidence and gradual mental collapse.

Otello was Verdi’s penultimate opera. Although he had claimed to have retired after Aida in 1871, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to set a text by his favourite poet, Shakespeare. His publisher, Giulio Ricordi, suggested he use the writer and composer Arrigo Boito as his librettist. Verdi was delighted by Boito’s subtle and sensitive text, which drew from him some wonderful and varied music. Highlights include Otello and Desdemona’s beautiful Act I love duet, Iago’s nihilistic Act II ‘Credo’, the grandeur of the final scenes of Act III and the terrible intimacy of Act IV from Desdemona’s forebodings to Otello’s crime of passion. Otello had a triumphant premiere in 1887 at La Scala, Milan, and Verdi and Boito went on to collaborate on Verdi’s final operatic masterpiece, Falstaff.



The Royal Opera


Giuseppe Verdi


Arrigo Boito


Keith Warner

Set designer

Boris Kudlička

Costume designer

Kaspar Glarner

Lighting designer

Bruno Poet

Movement director

Michael Barry

Fight director

Ran Arthur Braun

Performed by
The Royal Opera


Antonio Pappano
Jonas Kaufmann
Maria Agresta
Marco Vratogna
Frédéric Antoun
Thomas Atkins
Kai Rüütel
Simon Shibambu
In Sung Sim
Thomas Barnard
Royal Opera Chorus
Concert Master
Vasko Vassilev
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

News and features

To find out more visit the Otello (2017) production page.