Posted by Sari
As I am a frequent customer of academic libraries, I tend to forget just how much interesting stuff there is in the public libraries. Like music. My bus takes me every day next to Kirjasto 10 the multi-media library with lots of computers, WiFi and an extensive music collection, and it is only recently I have taken to making use of its services. Silly me.
Today on my way back from work I picked up DG's Otello from 1994, the (so far) last big studio recording of this work, which is maybe the the greatest tragic opera of all time. My vinyl is Karajan-Vickers from 1970s, with which I have been very satisfied. Vickers' all-out mad with jealousy and grief Otello has incredible raw power, Freni is a reliable Desdemona, and Glossop one of the most underappreciated Iagos ever. Even so I am really taken with this one. Chung has a great grasp of the score, Studer is a shimmering Desdemona and Leiferkus a really evil Iago.
But all that is really secondary to Domingo1, who dominates the set. It is his third studio recording of a role he has sung over 200 times and made his signature part. His first Otello was in 1975 and he continued to perform the part even in the new millenium. (Trivia: he sang Cassio in the early 1960s.) And, though de gustibus... and though it might well be a generational thing, you can keep Martinelli and Vinay and del Monaco and even Vickers, this psychologically astute and vocally magnificent Otello is the one for me. This is a mature artist totally in control of his instrument and interpretation and the result is nothing short of magnificent.
I could list endless number of scenes were Domingo just shines, but just listen the duetto in the third act where Desdemona pleads for Cassio and Otello keeps asking about the handkerchief. Domingo pitches the pain, jealousy and cunning of Otello perfectly and absolutely nails the scene at the end (when Otello pretends to ask Desdemona's forgiveness only to accuse her of being a whore) with bitter irony exploding to wrath. Just brilliant.
1. In the interests of full disclosure I better own up that I grew up listening the three tenors before they became "The Three Tenors", I have seen all of them live (separately) and had a huge schoolgirl crush on Domingo when I was about thirteen.