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Verdi: Otello

Here’s a hint: cloudy with a chance of smothering…

Dispensing with the traditional overture, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera instead jumps right into the action with a sudden crash of thunder as the Venetian people watch their leader’s ship struggling against a fierce storm.

Otello was Verdi’s last tragedy, premiering in 1887 after a hiatus of opera composition that had lasted more than a decade.The composer’s first Shakespearean opera, a setting of “Macbeth,” had its premiere a full forty years earlier in 1847.

Verdi was never totally satisfied with his Macbeth and made heavy revisions over the years. The fact that Verdi waited so long to return to Shakespeare, and that his two last masterpieces, Otello and Falstaff were both Shakespearean, perhaps displays the reverence in which Verdi held the great Elizabethan playwright.

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