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Verdi: Otello / Maazel, Domingo, Ricciarelli, Diaz


Release Date: 08/29/2006 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 58670   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Ezio Di CesareConstantin ZahariaPetra MalakovaKatia Ricciarelli,   ... 
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala OrchestraMilan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 21 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Again and again Domingo makes you feel how Otello's soul is on the rack -- he is overwhelmingly moving, and the death is the more touching for being restrained.

This is probably the most exciting Otello since Toscanini's. For, although the Levine (RCA) in some way runs it close, the advantage of this recording being made at roughly the same time as the Shooting of the Zeffirelli film (with the same team) is clear from the sense of involvement heard on all sides. Maazel's dynamic conducting, like Levine's, follows Toscanini's in most matters of tempo and in his insistence on important instrumental and rhythmic detail, as in the double dotting of the strings at the start of Otellos monologue, in the mandolin accompaniment
Read more to the chorus in Act 2, and earlier in a very evident organ pedal note throughout the opening chorus. Maazel's is a highly dramatic, theatrical reading, but one which is equally aware of the need for eloquence and pathos in both the projection of the central agony of Otello and the pathos of Desdemona's music. I faulted him only twice: the passage of recitative after Iago's Credo is too hurried, as is "Ora e per sempre", perhaps at Domingo's request, as the same thing happens on the Levine set. Maazel gives due weight and intensity to the big Act 3 concertato. In all this he is thrillingly supported by the Scala forces. The orchestra's string tone is as sweet and warm as the brass is incisive. The choral singing simply surpasses anything I have ever heard in this work, and it is superbly caught by the spacious recording.

It is Domingo, according to Zeffirelli's brief comment in the booklet (reprinted on page 539), who urged him to make the film because he (Domingo) felt his interpretation was now "ready, ripe for the part". Domingo himself says that "there is no greater burden and no greater reward than this" (see page 539). After singing almost 100 performances of the role, he naturally evinces much more experience and involvement than was obviously possible eight years ago. The greater knowledge shows itself in a much more detailed and taut inflection of the text and a more tragic feeling in the tone, which is itself more varied in colour than previously. The baritonal darkness, so effective in recitative-like passages, is still there, but now it is seconded by more incisive attack at the top. He still doesn't possess the trumpet-like open-throated declamation of singers such as the Italian tenors Zenatello and Lauri-Volpi, but he is more accurate than either of these, more musical than they or probably any other Otello other than Martinelli (Pearl).

Again and again Domingo now makes you feel how Otello's soul is on the rack, both in forcing ever more jealous-making details from Iago and in berating Desdemona: Domingo is overwhelmingly moving in the Third Act duet (note the way he copes with Verdi's voce suffocate at the close) and the succeeding monologue where he follows Martinelli in taking the phrase "e rassegnato . . . del ciel" in a single breath. The death is the more touching for being restrained. The moments of fiery command, before his disputing lieutenants in Act l and before the Venetian envoys in Act 3, have all the energetic authority they should have. Has any other Otello, on the other hand, had such a smooth, finely etched legato as Domingo in the love duet? In all these points his central performance surpasses that on the earlier set, but above all it conveys tragic stature.

Justino Diaz is, in a way, the pleasant surprise of the set. On former recorded and live evidence, I did not expect to hear him give such a subtle performance as he does here. Under Maazel's alert tutelage (no doubt) he is obedient to almost all Verdi's copious dynamic markings, particularly prominent in Iago's part. He makes much of the words, but can't quite match Gobbi or Valdengo in that respect, partly because his voice has bass undertones, just as does Bacquier's on the Solti/Decca version. Indeed, his reading reminds me very much of Bacquier's both in tone and manner, finding an almost cheerful bluffness in the role, but Diaz's singing is the more secure. His isn't the most convincing Iago on record, but in this context his reading is very much of a piece with Domingo's Otello, and you can feel how the two have worked together on a stage production.

As so often with Desdemona, the role brings the very best out of the soprano taking it. I have seldom heard a more tender, vulnerable Desdemona than Ricciarelli's, absolutely ideal in the many dolce, piano moments in the role, bringing tears to the eyes in her totally feminine pleading in the Act 3 duet, shaping her last act scene with deep sensibility—her finest performance on record to date. Listen to the passage starting "se inconscia", Desdemona's first moment of concern: it is a precursor in sad timbre of so much that is to come. True she doesn't have the spinto fullness of tone of many predecessors in the part, Margaret Price for instance (for Solti), but she matches Levine's Scotto in intelligence and on the whole makes the pleasanter sound. Again, she fits in well with the whole concept. I regret that the minor roles have not been more strongly cast. All the voices sound to me distinctly second-rate though none is other than correct. The Cassio, like Diaz, is somewhat hurried by Maazel's speed for "Questa e una ragna". The performance is enhanced by the lifelike recording produced by James Mallinson in the Milan Conservatory.

-- Gramophone [10/1986] Review of original release EMI47450
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Works on This Recording

1. Otello by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Ezio Di Cesare (Tenor), Constantin Zaharia (Tenor), Petra Malakova (Mezzo Soprano),
Katia Ricciarelli (Soprano), John Macurdy (Bass), Giannicola Pigliucci (Baritone),
Placido Domingo (Tenor), Justino Diaz (Bass), Edward Toumajian (Bass)
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Italy 
Length: 141 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

Sound Samples

Otello, Atto Primo, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Una vela! Una vela! Un vessillo! ... (Ciprioti/Montano/Cassio/Jago/Roderigo)
Otello, Atto Primo, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Esultate! (Otello/Ciprioti)
Otello, Atto Primo, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Roderigo, ebben che pensi? (Jago/Roderigo)
Otello, Atto Primo, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Fuoco di gioia! ... (Ciprioti)
Otello, Atto Primo, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Roderigo, beviam! (Jago/Cassio/Ciprioti/Roderigo)
Otello, Atto Primo, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Inaffia l'ugola! (Jago/Cassio/Roderigo)
Otello, Atto Primo, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Capitano, v'attende la fazione si baluardi (Montano/Cassio/Jago/Roderigo/Caprioti)
Otello, Atto Primo, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Abbasso le spade! (Otello/Jago/Cassio/Montano)
Otello, Atto Primo, Terza scena/Scene 3/Dritte Szene/Troisième Scène: Già nella notte densa ... Quando narravi ... Ed io vedea fra le tue tempie ... Venga la morte! (Otello/Desdemona)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Non ti crucciar (Jago/Cassio)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Credo in un Dio crudel (Jago)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Eccola ... Cassioa... a te (Jago)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Terza scena/Scene 3/Dritte Szene/Troisième Scène: Ciò m'accora ... Che parli? (Jago/Otello)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Terza scena/Scene 3/Dritte Szene/Troisième Scène: Un tal proposio spezza ... (Jago/Ciprioti/Fanciuli/Donne/Desdemona)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Quarta scena/Scene 4/Vierte Szene/Quatrième Scène: D'un uom che geme sotto il tuo disdegno ... (Desdemona/Otello)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Quarta scena/Scene 4/Vierte Szene/Quatrième Scène: Se inconscia contro te, sposo ... (Desdemona/Otello/Jago/Emilia)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Desdemona rea! ... (Otello/Jago)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Ora e per sempre addio, sante memorie (Otello/Jago)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Era la notte ... (Jago/Otello)
Otello, Atto Secondo, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Si, pel ciel marmoreo giuro! (Otello/Jago)
Otello, Atto Terzo, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: La vedetta del porto ha segnalato ... (Araldo/Otello/Jago)
Otello, Atto Terzo, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Dio ti giocondi ... Esterrefatta fisso ... (Desdemona/Otello)
Otello, Atto Terzo, Terza e quarta scena/Scenes 3 & 4 /Dritte und Vierte Szene/Troisième et Quatrième Scènes, Dio! mi potevi scagliar (Otello): Ah! dannazione!
Otello, Atto Terzo, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Vieni, l'aula è deserta ... (Jago/Cassio/Otello)
Otello, Atto Terzo, Quinta scena/Scene 5/Fünfte Szene/Cinquième Scène: Questa è una ragna (Jago/Cassio/Otello)
Otello, Atto Terzo, Sesta scena/Scene 6/Sechste Szene/Sixième Scène: Come la ucciderò? (Otello/Jago/Ciprioti)
Otello, Atto Terzo, Settima scena/Scene 7/Siebente Szene/Septième Scène: Viva! Evviva! Viva il Leon di San Marco! (Coro/Lodovico/Otello/Desdemona/Emilia/Jago)
Otello, Atto Terzo, Ottava e Nona scena/Scenes 8 & 9/Achte und Neunte Szene/Huitième et Neuvième Scènes: Messeri! Il Doge ... (Otello/Roderigo/Jago/Lodovico)
Otello, Atto Terzo, Ottava e Nona scena/Scenes 8 & 9/Achte und Neunte Szene/Huitième et Neuvième Scènes: A terra! ... sì ... nil livido fango ... (Desdemona/Emilia/Cassio/Roderigo/Lodovico/Jago/Otello/Dame/Cavlieri/Ciprioti)
Otello, Atto Quarto, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Era più calmo? (Emilia/Desdemona)
Otello, Atto Quarto, Prima scena/Scene 1/Erste Szene/Première Scène: Mia madre aveva una povera ancella ... Piangea cantando nell'arma landa ... (Emilia/Desdemona)
Otello, Atto Quarto, Seconda scena/Scene 2/Zweite Szene/Deuxième Scène: Ave Maria, piena di grazia (Desdemona)
Otello, Atto Quarto, Terza e quarta scena/Scenes 3 & 4/Dritte und Vierte Szene/Troisième et Quatrième Scènes: Chi è là? Otello (Desdemona/Otello)
Otello, Atto Quarto, Terza e quarta scena/Scenes 3 & 4/Dritte und Vierte Szene/Troisième et Quatrième Scènes: Aprite! Aprite! (Emilia/Otello/Desdemona)
Otello, Atto Quarto, Terza e quarta scena/Scenes 3 & 4/Dritte und Vierte Szene/Troisième et Quatrième Scènes: Niun mi tema (Otello/Cassio/Lodovico/Montano)

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