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

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.



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

Cast sheets

Cast sheets are available as PDFs

News and features

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