Jonas Kaufmann is now the Otello of this generation. This recording project is the crowning glory of his journey to become today’s key exponent of this legendary role.
Verdi’s Otello is a remarkable four-act opera based on Shakespeare’s play Othello. Otello is considered Verdi’s greatest and most demanding role for the tenor voice. Kaufmann made his debut as Otello in June 2017 at the Royal Opera House to widespread critical acclaim. Kaufmann has won numerous prestigious awards including Gramophone Awards and Echo Klassik Award. Jonas Kaufmann sings an Otello for the ages...
“His sound inescapably evokes memories of live performances and classic recordings by Vinay, Vickers and other masters; in a single night, he joined their company.” – The New York Times
It’s a forceful, visceral reading of the score that packs an irresistible punch, but which could do more to capture the refined lyricism and stately grandeur that are also such essential parts of the work. the tenor bares his dramatic teeth impressively and to powerful effect; he is nobly moving in the final scene. But the characterisation is also held back by the fact that, although he has all the notes and plenty of power, the voice itself sounds short on juice.
Pappano, surely one of this generation’s finest opera conductors, is all of a piece with Kaufmann. The two see the flow of the drama in the same way, and just as Kaufmann is extraordinary in his ability to blend and tie together the emotional (and musical) extremes of the character, Pappano does the same with the orchestral part.
Opening with a visceral storm scene, the listener is immediately drawn into the citizen’s fear as they watch Otello’s ship struggle to safety. Orchestra and chorus are sensational, and Pappano drives the music inexorably forward. Kaufmann’s initial entrance is striking; his deeply burnished coloring and stentorian delivery conveying Otello’s charismatic authority.
Federica Lombardi’s Desdemona is a fully fleshed out, multi-dimensional character, and her many interactions with Kaufmann ring emotionally true. In “Già nella notte densa,” achingly beautiful strings set the scene, the intimacy between Otello and Desdemona are touchingly conveyed through the varied colors employed by both singers.
– The Classical Review