Knew your Verdi?
Possibly so, but here comes Opera in the Heights' Rossinian Otello.
And it is different. Violently different.
Physically violent. Vocally violent.
Powerful music played superbly under Maestro Carreon-Robledo who enthusiastically sang along most of the time (inaudibly sure - over the power of the orchestra - but you could see his lips move, and his arms, too, of course ;-)!.
And then there were the principal singers.
Each and every one managing the incredible and rather demanding sounds that Rossini composed.
Soprano Jessica E. Jones (familiar to us from Moores School of Music's Il Postino, and earlier, Elmer Gantry) a very persuasive Desdemona singing with feeling and beauty.
Below Caballe with the Willow song
Mezzo Ann Sauder was her servant Emilia, with a burnished rich and yet clear sound.
BUT the tenors surely had "Vorrang" in this Bel Canto Opera.
Eric Barry as Otello was very credible and seemed at ease with the 2 1/2 octaves the role requires.
While Luke Grooms as Rodrigo (a much enlarged role here), also a Tenor, managed the fiendishly high tessitura without too much trouble. And sounded stunning, once one adjusted to this high sound.
The third Tenor (no not Carreras) was Brent Reilly Turner as Iago.
Which one, too, had to get used to, since Verdi's Iago is a baritone!
And the fourth tenor, the small role of the Doge, was adequately presented by Felipe Gonzalez.
The deepest role, written for a bass, was Desdemona's father Elmiro, sung with stentorian authority by Joseph Rawley, a bass-baritone.
Sure there were other deep voices in the chorus: to count 4 basses, 1 baritone, 3 Mezzo sopranos, but also 4 tenors, 5 sopranos, including the versatile Traci Davis, a long time chorus member.
Anyway, IMO, the update to more modern times felt right as Erica Miller, who previously sang the soprano role of Marie (La Fille Du Regiment), and thus quite at home with high C's by tenors, at OH! spread her wings as Director here. After all we daily read about the abuse of women by husbands and fathers, men stabbing men, men killing women, and so on! We do live in a ever more violent world! So an Otello by Rossini directed in this way by Erica Miller felt almost - almost - normal!
There was a moment which tickled my funny bone:
THE (verbal ;-) fight on stage between Rodrigo and Otello - both enamored of Desdemona!
The image created in my mind resembled nothing less than a crowing and clawing cockfight, or harts matching rack against rack like proverbial stags in heat -
ahem- just kidding of course, but...
Anyway, here is Juan Diego Florez as Rodrigo..
and if you don't agree that this is treacherous high note singing.... you may need to have a hearing test!
|Giorgione The Tempest.|
And before all that we heard David Brauer, one of our favorite lecturer at MFAH who spoke on what I call 'painted storytelling ;-)' with his usual wit and humorous interpretations of old masters' paintings, and made us laugh out loud often!
And he will have a second lecture in that vein Oct 26/27!