About the Story
Otello story synopsis
Otello: In a Nutshell
From Shakespeare’s Othello to Verdi’s Otello
Otello Opera facts for kids from Kiddle
Otello on Wikipedia
Verdi’s Otello: A Shakespearean Inspiration
Othello to Otello – Why the spelling change?
The Verdi opera is set to an Italian adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy. Since the letter “h” isn’t pronounced in Italian, the Italian spelling of the Moor’s name is “Otello”- no “h.”
About Verdi’s Orchestra
FEATURED INSTRUMENT: DOUBLE BASS
FEATURED FAMILY: WOODWINDS
- “Fuoco di gioia”: This video is a concert presentation of the chorus “Fuoco di gioia” (“Fire of Joy”) with full orchestra.
- English Horn – “Salce, salce …”: A concert performance of the opening of Act IV. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra; Tamara Kalinkina (soprano). Some nice views of the orchestra. Listen for the English Horn solo.
ARRANGEMENTS FOR BAND INSTRUMENTS
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE ORCHESTRA AND INSTRUMENTS
Audio and Video Resources
“Gia nella note densa”
This duet is sung by the doomed lovers Otello and Desdemona in happier times. Although their end is tragic, this piece is filled with the joy of two lovers who found one another through hardship and turmoil. Overcome with passion for one another, the music ends with a moving kiss and one of opera’s most famous leitmotifs. Renée Fleming, soprano; Johan Botha, tenor; Metropolitan Opera 2012
“Si, pel ciel” Duet
The dramatic Act II finale duet featuring Jonas Kaufmann, tenor as Otello and Marco Vratogna, baritone as Iago. This selection is featured in the Access Opera: Otello curriculum.
The duet between Otello and Desdemona at the end of Act I is the only love duet in all of Verdi’s operas between a husband and wife. It is not restrained or hurried – these lovers are not being kept apart and are not afraid of being caught. Verdi develops a serenely calm scene in which Otello and Desdemona, in an extended duet, express their unbridled love– a love that will soon be shattered. Otello is mature, yet impetuous. Desdemona is serene but passionate. From its opening line, “Già nella notte densa” (“Now in the dark night”), Verdi paints a scene of matrimonial bliss, culminating in the famous bacio or “kiss” motif. Here, in a Wagnerian style “Tristan” progression of unresolved chords, Otello gives his Desdemona a kiss and yet another. This motif will play a significant role in Act IV, when Otello comes to kill her. – from The Metropolitan Opera
Jonas Kaufmann performs “Dio! Mi potevi scagliar”
Jonas Kaufmann, tenor, makes his debut in the role of Otello at the Royal Opera House in London, England, 2017. This aria is sung in Act 3, after Desdemona responds that she has been faithful to Otello, when he accuses her of being with another man, a vicious idea that Iago has planted in his head.
Verdi’s Brilliantly Inappropriate “Ave Maria”
Maria Chiara sings “Ave Maria”
Leontyne Price sings “Ave Maria”
Leontyne Price, soprano, was the first African American to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Her voice has been described as “vibrant”, “soaring” and “a Price beyond Pearls.”
Maria Callas sings “Willow Song”
The opening of Act IV powerfully evokes melancholy. The Willow Song is remarkable for its intimate mood: its lyrical, at times almost improvisatory, vocal line, and delicate orchestration, in which woodwind instruments are prominent. Verdi deftly illustrates images from the song’s text, including a busy string figuration to depict the swirling stream by which the girl weeps, and flute flurries for the birds that fly to her side. Desdemona’s two passionate outbursts at the end of the song hint at how stoically she has been controlling her grief. The ensuing Ave Maria movingly depicts how Desdemona finds consolation in prayer. Its shimmering orchestration, beautifully simple melody and ethereal coda – with Desdemona soaring to a pianissimo high note – poignantly portray innocence and trust in a beneficent higher power: a welcome contrast to the mood of bitterness and sorrow the cruel Iago has created by poisoning Otello’s mind against Desdemona. – from The Royal Opera House
Why Verdi’s Otello is an ‘Everest’ for opera singers
The Royal Opera House shares insights into why Otello is one of the greatest, but most challenging operas of all time.
Insights into Otello with Jonas Kaufmann (The Royal Opera)
A conversation about the opera Otello with conductor Antonio Pappano and Jonas Kaufmann, tenor.
Otello: All About Verdi, Boito (librettist), the Libretto, the Music and the Recordings
Otello Performance History
The Music of Otello
Verdi’s Otello Musical Highlight: “Willow Song” and “Ave Maria”
An article from The Royal Opera House
Otello Study Guide – Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Study Guide includes articles and activities especially appropriate for older students, that focus on the following topics:
- The adaptation of the story in different artistic genres
- Verdi’s musical depiction of the storm in the opera’s opening scene
- The portrayal of race both in the opera and in its sources
Study Guide for Otello – Pittsburgh Opera
This guide includes a great chart that shows the major differences between Shakespeare’s Othello and Verdi’s Otello.
Study Guide for Otello – Opera Philadelphia
This guide includes a translation of the complete libretto for the opera.
Maria Callas on NPR
Maria Callas artist page – interviews, features and/or performances archived at NPR Music
Leontyne Price, Legendary Diva, Is a Movie Star at 90
Leontyne Price steals the show in a new documentary “The Opera House.”
Leontyne Price at age 90: The Voice We Still Love to Talk About
A Great NPR story about Leontyne Price.