The third opera on the bill of the 43rd edition of the Rossini Opera Festival is Otello, a new production scheduled for Thursday 11th August at 8.00 p.m. at the Vitrifrigo Arena, conducted by Yves Abel, with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai and the Chorus of the Teatro Ventidio Basso. The opera is staged by Rosetta Cucchi, with scenery by Tiziano Santi, costumes by Ursula Patzak and lighting by Daniele Naldi. The singers are Enea Scala, Eleonora Buratto, Dmitry Korchak, Antonino Siragusa, Evgeny Stavinsky, Adriana Di Paola, Julian Henao Gonzales and Antonio Garés. Repeat performances will be on 14th, 17th and 20th August.
Otello, a dramma per musica in three acts to a libretto by Francesco Berio di Salsa, was given its first performance at the Teatro del Fondo, Naples, on the 4th December 1816.
The autograph full score is to be found at the Fondazione Rossini, Pesaro. The story was taken from the Othello of Jean-François Ducis, a translation into French of Shakespeare’s play of the same name.
Rossini re-modelled the tragic ending into a happy-ending version that was performed in Rome at the Teatro Argentina during the Carnival season of 1820.
On the 4th December 1816 the audience crowding into the Teatro del Fondo, while the San Carlo was being re-built after a disastrous fire, greeted Otello with rapture. The tragic finale, of unprecedented violence, reinforces the magnificent scale of the theatrical effort achieved by Rossini and his mentor. Rossini had never before forseen a third act in any opera of his, but for Otello he believed that he could not do without one.
In the opera the true protagonist is Desdemona, and the unhappiness of her fate seems inescapable from the moment of her first appearance on stage, such is the sadness surrounding her character. Rossini was always ahead of his times and the death scene of his heroine, the most violent and inadmissible in all his list of operas, almost seems to anticipate what today’s language would refer to as a femicide.