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Musical Journey Notes... Dortmund, Oldenburg and Back Again (II)
Otelloby G. Verdi directed by Niklaus Helbling takes place in a barber's shop located in a rank mall, where the commando band of the assigned hero has established its "headquarters". The landing of the ship during a storm in the debut of the work is being watched by the ones sheltered there in an assumed (for the audience) tridimensional video recording, while everybody else is looking through their special eyeglasses. The access to the barber's shop is up a metal staircase, with a lot of steps, always brought down and climbed up by Desdemona in high heels. Only during the last act, when she's rolling down a mattress on which she will lie down, is she barefooted. In the mirrors inside the barber's shop, you can see distorted images of the protagonists, but there also appear demonic illusions as Othello's troubled mind is gradually growing uneasy. In the end of the third act, demons in flesh and blood come onstage to harass him. Iago inoculates Othello with the poison of jealousy while a barber is passing his razor along his throat, anticipating the outcome more or less, because Otello will suppress his own life by cutting his throat whit a razor after he has killed Desdemona by holding her head in the sink full of water. Of course, it will take you some time to get used to all this and accept it, if you can. The dramatic techniques and the theatrical efforts of the choir were insignificant while the main characters played with normal and convincing gestures and reactions, the soloists answered with dedication to the ideas of the director.
The musical discourse went on very well under the guidance of the conductor Roger Epple. The loss of synchronism more frequently at the beginning, almost gradually disappeared on the way, the orchestra performed the score with accuracy, and the choir had energy and brightness. The main role was taken by the Mexican tenor Luis Chapa, a common voice, with a little too ample vibrato, but driven with the certainty of an interpreter whose physical appearance and temperament were appropriate to the role. His compatriot, the baritone Juan Orozco performed the role of Iago more modest in all respects.
We found in the role of Desdemona the Romanian-Chinese soprano Angela Bic. Her full and silky voice, the science of performing in legato, the tinted phrasing, her theatrical talent and a charming honesty of expression make her the right person for the role that she managed to perform without difficulty, even in the most supplicants moments, of high dramatic intensity. She raised the artistic level of the performance, offering an interesting sonor satisfaction and dazzling the audience. The hall of the Opera House in Oldenburg was filled with the audience - as I have found out that this is what usually happens during performances - proving their gratitude.
Translated by Andreea Mesescu and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, Bucharest University