Otello: A Festive Staged Concert Event

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Verdi's epic Shakespearean tragedy

Austin Opera opens its 2018–2019 season with one of opera’s most dramatically and vocally intense masterpieces: Verdi’s Otello, November 10–18, 2018, at the Long Center.

Presented as a festive staged concert event and based on Shakespeare’s iconic characters, Verdi’s Otello is a rarely performed masterwork of personal and political jealousy that will leave Austin audiences breathless.

The victorious naval warrior Otello will be performed by rising star tenor Issachah Savage, who captivated Austin Opera audiences as Radamès in Aida in 2015. Fresh off her triumph as Violetta in our spring 2018 production of La traviata, soprano Marina Costa-Jackson returns to sing the heartbreaking role of the faithful wife Desdemona. Austin Opera favorite baritone Michael Chioldi returns for his fifth role in Austin as the treacherous and cunning Iago. And Steven White, fresh off conducting La traviata, returns to marshal the massive orchestral and vocal forces of Verdi’s passionate score, featuring the Austin Opera orchestra on stage with the vocalists.

Production Run Time:
Part One – 90 minutes
Intermission – 25 minutes
Part Two – 60 minutes

Total Run Time: approximately 3 hours

Elise Quagliata headshot

Elise Quagliata*
Emilia

Evan Boyer Headshot

Evan Boyer*
Lodovico

Matthew Arnold
Montano

Chris Carr

Chris Carr*
Roderigo

Production

Music: Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto: Arrigo Boito
Conductor: Steven White
Lighting Design: Thomas Hase
Audio Design: Bill Mester
Chorus Master/Assistant Conductor: Cina Crisara
Concert Stage Director: Rebecca A. Herman
Production Stage Manager: Kathleen Edwards
Principal Coach/Pianist: Nyle Matsuoka

Based on Shakespeare’s tragedy

In Italian with projected English titles

*Austin Opera debut

While a storm rages, the people of Cyprus await the arrival of Otello, their leader. Roderigo confides to Iago, Otello’s ensign, that he is in love with Desdemona, Otello’s wife; Iago assures Roderigo that Desdemona will soon tire of her husband. Iago orchestrates a fight between Cassio, Otello’s Captain, and Roderigo; the conflict soon escalates to a general riot. Otello, furious, demotes Cassio. As the people disperse and the storm clears, Otello and Desdemona sing of their love.

Iago encourages Cassio to ask Desdemona to intercede for his pardon and reinstatement. As Cassio approaches Desdemona, Iago, aside, articulates his own misanthropic beliefs. When Otello glimpses Cassio with his wife, Iago fans the flames of his jealousy. People of the island surround Desdemona, praising her beauty and purity; but Otello begins to be undone with jealous doubt. Desdemona asks Otello to pardon Cassio and he responds in anger. Emila, Iago’s wife, retrieves a handkerchief of Desdemona’s after it is cast aside. Iago obtains the handkerchief and later describes it to Otello, telling him he saw it in Cassio’s hand.

Desdemona again brings forward Cassio’s case. Otello demands she produce the handkerchief described by Iago. When she cannot, he accuses her of being unchaste, and her denials only feed his fury. While Otello watches, Iago leads Cassio to produce Desdemona’s handkerchief, which Iago had planted in his room. Based on this “evidence” of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness, Iago advises Otello to strangle her; he also pledges to take care of Cassio. In return, Otello names Iago his new Captain.

Desdemona, preparing for bed, is seized with foreboding. After Emilia leaves her alone, Otello confronts his wife, who protests her innocence, but then starts when her husband tells her Cassio is already dead. Taking her reaction as proof of her guilt, Otello smothers Desdemona. Emilia arrives with the news that Cassio has killed Roderigo. The dying Desdemona protests her unjust accusation; as others enter the room and begin saying what they know, it becomes clear to Otello that he was tricked by Iago. In despair and remorse, Otello stabs himself and dies beside Desdemona’s body.

Timothy Myers Headshot

Timothy Myers
Artistic Advisor

Click here for Timothy Myers Bio.

R.Herman

Rebecca Herman
Concert Stage Director

Click here for Q&A with Rebecca A. Herman.

Overview

Austin Opera opens its 2018–2019 season with one of opera’s most dramatically and vocally intense masterpieces: Verdi’s Otello, November 10–18, 2018, at the Long Center.

Presented as a festive staged concert event and based on Shakespeare’s iconic characters, Verdi’s Otello is a rarely performed masterwork of personal and political jealousy that will leave Austin audiences breathless.

The victorious naval warrior Otello will be performed by rising star tenor Issachah Savage, who captivated Austin Opera audiences as Radamès in Aida in 2015. Fresh off her triumph as Violetta in our spring 2018 production of La traviata, soprano Marina Costa-Jackson returns to sing the heartbreaking role of the faithful wife Desdemona. Austin Opera favorite baritone Michael Chioldi returns for his fifth role in Austin as the treacherous and cunning Iago. And Steven White, fresh off conducting La traviata, returns to marshal the massive orchestral and vocal forces of Verdi’s passionate score, featuring the Austin Opera orchestra on stage with the vocalists.

Production Run Time:
Part One – 90 minutes
Intermission – 25 minutes
Part Two – 60 minutes

Total Run Time: approximately 3 hours

Cast and Production
Elise Quagliata headshot

Elise Quagliata*
Emilia

Evan Boyer Headshot

Evan Boyer*
Lodovico

Matthew Arnold
Montano

Chris Carr

Chris Carr*
Roderigo

Production

Music: Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto: Arrigo Boito
Conductor: Steven White
Lighting Design: Thomas Hase
Audio Design: Bill Mester
Chorus Master/Assistant Conductor: Cina Crisara
Concert Stage Director: Rebecca A. Herman
Production Stage Manager: Kathleen Edwards
Principal Coach/Pianist: Nyle Matsuoka

Based on Shakespeare’s tragedy

In Italian with projected English titles

*Austin Opera debut

Synopsis

While a storm rages, the people of Cyprus await the arrival of Otello, their leader. Roderigo confides to Iago, Otello’s ensign, that he is in love with Desdemona, Otello’s wife; Iago assures Roderigo that Desdemona will soon tire of her husband. Iago orchestrates a fight between Cassio, Otello’s Captain, and Roderigo; the conflict soon escalates to a general riot. Otello, furious, demotes Cassio. As the people disperse and the storm clears, Otello and Desdemona sing of their love.

Iago encourages Cassio to ask Desdemona to intercede for his pardon and reinstatement. As Cassio approaches Desdemona, Iago, aside, articulates his own misanthropic beliefs. When Otello glimpses Cassio with his wife, Iago fans the flames of his jealousy. People of the island surround Desdemona, praising her beauty and purity; but Otello begins to be undone with jealous doubt. Desdemona asks Otello to pardon Cassio and he responds in anger. Emila, Iago’s wife, retrieves a handkerchief of Desdemona’s after it is cast aside. Iago obtains the handkerchief and later describes it to Otello, telling him he saw it in Cassio’s hand.

Desdemona again brings forward Cassio’s case. Otello demands she produce the handkerchief described by Iago. When she cannot, he accuses her of being unchaste, and her denials only feed his fury. While Otello watches, Iago leads Cassio to produce Desdemona’s handkerchief, which Iago had planted in his room. Based on this “evidence” of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness, Iago advises Otello to strangle her; he also pledges to take care of Cassio. In return, Otello names Iago his new Captain.

Desdemona, preparing for bed, is seized with foreboding. After Emilia leaves her alone, Otello confronts his wife, who protests her innocence, but then starts when her husband tells her Cassio is already dead. Taking her reaction as proof of her guilt, Otello smothers Desdemona. Emilia arrives with the news that Cassio has killed Roderigo. The dying Desdemona protests her unjust accusation; as others enter the room and begin saying what they know, it becomes clear to Otello that he was tricked by Iago. In despair and remorse, Otello stabs himself and dies beside Desdemona’s body.

More Content
Timothy Myers Headshot

Timothy Myers
Artistic Advisor

Click here for Timothy Myers Bio.

R.Herman

Rebecca Herman
Concert Stage Director

Click here for Q&A with Rebecca A. Herman.

Media
7:30PM, Saturday, November 10, 2018
The Long Center for the Performing Arts
701 West Riverside Drive
Austin, Texas 78704
7:30PM, Thursday, November 15, 2018
The Long Center for the Performing Arts
701 West Riverside Drive
Austin, Texas 78704
2:30PM, Sunday, November 18, 2018
The Long Center for the Performing Arts
701 West Riverside Drive
Austin, Texas 78704
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