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Canadian Opera Company – Verdi’s Otello

The Arts2010-2-9By: Classical Staff

reviewed by Paula Citron
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Otello
Canadian Opera Company
Composed by Guiseppe Verdi
Conducted by Paolo Olmi
Directed by Paul Curran
Starring Clifton Forbis, Tiziana Caruso, Scott Hendricks, Jamie Barton and Emanuele D’Aguanno
At the Four Seasons Centre until Feb. 28, 2010

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The Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Otello is musically sumptuous and visually questionable.

English designer Paul Edwards’ dripping red set is incomprehensible, and while his chorus costumes are Renaissance high style, Desdemona’s dresses are glaringly modern. Scottish director Paul Curran can’t deal with crowds, and has made some odd choices in the intimate scenes.

Happily, Italian conductor Paolo Olmi absolutely understands Verdi and the drama in his music, although the score threatens to swell over the singers. The leads are all expressive performers.

American tenor Clifton Forbis makes an intense but not over-melodramatic Otello, and while over-physical American baritone Scott Hendricks as Iago deeps grabbing people in headlocks, he is a sensational villain.

New singers to watch are Italian soprano Tiziana Caruso as Desdemona and tenor Emanuele D’Aguanno as Cassio. She has a rich, biting, fulsome Verdi voice, while he has the pure, sweet, lyric sound for the lighter roles.

Otello continues at the Four Seasons Centre until Feb. 28.

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