(photo credit: Yossi Zwecker)
No room was left for doubt that Desdemona was indeed killed and Otello committed
suicide in Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera’s direction of Verdi’s Otello at the
He belongs to the genre of directors who leave nothing to
the imagination, assuming audience intelligence cannot be relied upon to
understand gruesome events that are only hinted at and not explicitly
His direction and Carlo Sala’s sets were minimalist-realistic,
mercifully not burdening the stage with superfluous elements, except for some
palm trees that were supposed to suggest the Middle Eastern
In the title role, Gustavo Porta was the dominant figure,
leaving all the others in his formidable shadow. His impressive, clear tenor,
appealingly soft and caressing in his love scene and shatteringly powerful in
his rage; he did not just act his part but virtually lived it, convincingly
conveying his profound emotional identification with his role.
Farewell Aria and Revenge Duet, with Jago, were among the performance’s highlights. Portraying him as a rolling-on-the-floor madman did not do justice
to Otello’s honest though thwarted personality.
As Desdemona, soprano Ira
Bertman was apparently under the erroneous assumption that strong feelings
should be expressed by loud, vulgar shouting. The more intense and tragic this
gentle, frail character’s emotions get, the quieter and more internalized her
innermost self is likely to be expressed. A compensation was her Ave Maria that
calmly and movingly conveyed her despair.
Marco Vratogna was the
His friendly, warm-sounding baritone did
not possess the dark timbre and force that express the personification of evil.
His first aria was hurried and indifferent, without properly emphasizing the
weighty, doom-foreboding descending chromatic tones, and his Credo sounded like
a statement of fact rather than a declaration of evil.
Conducted by Omer
Welber, the Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion persuasively contributed the
dramatic effects. It also effectively drowned the choir’s and the soloists’
voices, that got a chance to make themselves heard mainly when the unrestrained
orchestra had a rest.