Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Fuoco di gioia! - (Act 1)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Roderigo, beviam! - (Act 1)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Inaffia l'ugola! - (Act 1)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Capitano, v'attende - (Act 1)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Ola! che avvien? - (Act 1)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Gia nelle notte - (Act 1)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Quando narrivi - (Act 1)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Venga la morte! - (Act 1)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Non ti cruciar - (Act 2)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Credo in un Dio crudel - (Act 2)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Eccola - (Act 2)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Cio' m'accora - (Act 2)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Dove guardi splendono - (Act 2)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: D'un uom che geme - (Act 2)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Desdemona rea! - (Act 2)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Ora e per sempre addio - (Act 2)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Era la notte - (Act 2)
Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Si, pel ciel - (Act 2)
Track Listings (15) - Disc #2
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Introduction - (Act 3)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: La vedetta del porto - (Act 3)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Dio ti giocondi, o sposo - (Act 3)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Dio! mi potevi scagliar - (Act 3)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Vieni, l'aula e' deserta - (Act 3)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Questa e' una ragna - (Act 3)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Come la uccidero'? - (Act 3)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Viva il Leon di San Marco! - (Act 3)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: A tera!...si...nel livido fango - (Act 3)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Era piu'calmo? - (Act 4)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Mia madre aveva una povera ancella (Willow Song) - (Act 4)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Ave Maria - (Act 4)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Chi e' la'? - (Act 4)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Calma come la tomba - (Act 4)
Othello - Lyric Drama In Four Acts: Nium mi tema - (Act 4)
Plácido Domingo may be the most famous Otello of our times, but most seasoned opera-goers will tell you that Canadian tenor Jon Vickers was the best. Compared to Domingo, the Vickers voice is bigger, more focused, less tex... more »tured, and lyrical; the Vickers temperament is much more volatile, like a coiled snake whose fury--when unleashed--was truly terrible. He recorded it twice; this is his best performance. Everything else about this recording--baritone Tito Gobbi as Iago, conductor Tullio Serafin, and the Rome Opera forces--is up to his standard with one significant exception: the miscast Leonie Rysanek as Desdemona. Her covered Germanic soprano sounds oddly matronly and remote. But with Vickers--at mid-price--this is still a good deal. --David Patrick Stearns« less
Plácido Domingo may be the most famous Otello of our times, but most seasoned opera-goers will tell you that Canadian tenor Jon Vickers was the best. Compared to Domingo, the Vickers voice is bigger, more focused, less textured, and lyrical; the Vickers temperament is much more volatile, like a coiled snake whose fury--when unleashed--was truly terrible. He recorded it twice; this is his best performance. Everything else about this recording--baritone Tito Gobbi as Iago, conductor Tullio Serafin, and the Rome Opera forces--is up to his standard with one significant exception: the miscast Leonie Rysanek as Desdemona. Her covered Germanic soprano sounds oddly matronly and remote. But with Vickers--at mid-price--this is still a good deal. --David Patrick Stearns
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is, by far, the best Otello recorded. The late Serafin is hard to beat, superb. His speeds are at the slow side, but with great intensity and profoundity. The humanity of Otello comes out movingly. The climaxes are built to perfection by his experienced baton. He is the main reason for buying this set. Vickers is a perfect singer to match Serafin's qualities. His voice is strong (though not as Vinay's) and the characterization is as detailed as the conducting. Gobbi is unbeatable. Rysanek is stronger-voiced than most Desdemonas today, and it reveals to be a positive point. Desdemona becomes a true woman, not a boring child. The sound is fantastic, much better than most digital recordings of our day. Strongly recommended."
A Great Stereo Otello
Jeffrey Lipscomb | Sacramento, CA United States | 07/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is surely the "Otello" to have if you're having only one. The CD transfer is faithful to the excellent stereo sound of the original LPs (the original cover has been retained, but not the lavish Soria booklet that accompanied the LP set). Just about my only regret: the ballet music that Verdi wrote especially for the Paris premiere, which was included on the original LPs, has not been retained here.
Vickers emerges as the finest Otello of the past 50 years - it is amazing to me that this recording from 1960 actually preceded all of his celebrated stage performances. The Canadian tenor's huge voice is used with great intelligence: he gives us the most complex, vulnerable, achingly tortured, and superbly acted Otello on disc. I think you have to go all the way back to Vinay and Martinelli to find anything remotely comparable.
Unlike several of the reviewers here, I find Rysanek's Desdemona very convincing: save for a few tenous moments, it is most beautifully sung and sympathetically acted. And what can I say about Gobbi's supremely malevolent Iago? While not one of the greatest of baritone voices, Gobbi gives us the most insinuating and thrilling Iago ever. Serafin draws magnificent playing from his Rome forces and shapes the music with the surest of hands. He opts for rather slow tempos, but they never drag.
I have heard but do not own the great 1938 Met broadcast with Giovanni Martinelli (it was on Music & Arts 645). The Chilean tenor Ramon Vinay (like Domingo and Bergonzi, he started out as a baritone) left recordings with three of the last century's greatest conductors: Wilhelm Furtwangler (1951 "live" Salzburg Festival on EMI), Arturo Toscanini (RCA), and Fritz Busch ("live" 1948 Met broadcast - mine is on Penzance LPs). For those of you with a historical bent, these are all vital performances well worth a hearing.
Vinay (heard in best voice with Busch) is similar to Vickers' anguished Moor - but he lacks the ringing high notes of the Canadian's true heldentenor voice. Furtwangler, in his only recorded Verdi opera performance, finds some lovely colors in Verdi's score: his reading is alive with symphonic insights. Unfortunately, the sound is rather poor and the rest of the cast is not very special. Dragica Martinis is a rather wan Desdemona, and Paul Schoeffler strikes me as a rather unidiomatic Iago. Toscanini is Toscanini: brisk, forceful, dramatic. His opening storm is truly volcanic in its fury - everybody else's sounds rather tame in comparison. His Iago is Valdengo, who gives a wily, brilliant performance on the same plane as Gobbi's. But Herva Nelli is a very passive and rather uninteresting Desdemona. Busch conducts a dramatic reading similar to Toscanini's, and benefits from a sympathetic Desdemona (Licia Albanese) and the most opulently sung Iago of all (Leonard Warren in fine fettle, but lacking some of the interpretive subtleties that come across so well with Gobbi).
To summarize: for an excellent Otello in modern sound, this Serafin set is surely one of the top choices. And for a supplement from the past, there are several fine sets to choose from: my choice would be the Martinelli and Vinay/Busch sets, should they re-surface on CD."
A very noble recording!
Mark | United States | 02/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I find this set to be the most noble Otello on record. Even though recorded in 1961 the sound quality is excellent!Otello is about passion, hatred, rage and jealousy! The conductor should be able to show all these elements and makes us feel them...I don't think serafin managed to do all this. He choosed slow movements and tempis and made this recording...about 20 minutes more than Toscanini's which is the ultimate reference.However this set won't lack interest at all..and this mainly for two reasons: Tito Gobbi and Jon Vickers.Gobbi is the perfect Iago and it is here that you will find him at his best. He doesn't sing in a mean ugly voice (too many Iagos do!) but with a malignant intelligent one...light in times and dark in others pushing Otello to his outrage! Splendid.Vickers IS the most noble Otello of all times. With his big voice plenty of passion he delivers here the best Otello on record. And as Domingo fan, it is difficult for me to admit that Vickers is better than him. I find Domingo's voice much more beautiful and is a much better actor but Vickers' is more suitable and he sings Verdi's notes entirely! The other definitive Otello is Del Monaco with the most powerful voice ever. But Del Monaco's powerful voice screws in the ligh passages.Rysanek is a beautiful Desdemona. An excellent actress (just like Gobbi).There are 4 excellent Otello recordings. (Levine RCA, Karajan DECCA, Serafin RCA (this one) and Toscanini).
This one is a MUST. Buy it at least for Vickers and Gobbi."
SHAKESPEARE'S OWN OPERA
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 03/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Recordings of Verdi's Otello free from major shortcomings are in my experience so rare that I am only too happy to award the full 5 stars when I find such a recording, perfect or ideal though it may not be.
Such reservations as I have about this set are largely concerned with the recorded sound. This is in general not bad at all, being a digital remastering of sound dating originally from 1960. Where it seems less than totally successful is in treating the voices with a rather variable and inconsistent focus - sometimes closer, sometimes more remote. I suspect that the engineering may even have deprived us of the full benefit of the singing at times. The trills that characterise Iago's music, for one thing, were probably more vivid from Gobbi in real life than they come across here. For another, Gobbi is allowed to dominate Vickers more than I suspect he really did in the oath-taking; and while I doubt that Vickers or anyone else ever equalled (if memory serves) del Monaco at `Sangue, sangue, sangue' or in the thrilling flash on the top notes as they swear their oath, I doubt also that we are getting the full value of the treatment that Vickers gave these passages.
Other criticism that I have seen of this set centres on the perception - indisputable indeed if hardly startling - that Serafin is not Toscanini. Toscanini was unique indeed, and there is terrific fury and tension from him at the start that I never heard equalled. However such details, impressive though they are, do not provide a basis for assessing performances of Otello. That is provided by the conducting and the casting overall.
I would say that all three of Serafin's principals, but in particular his Desdemona, surpass Toscanini's. When it comes to the direction, Serafin in his way seems to me to understand this great and difficult score as well as Toscanini does. There is a peculiar atmosphere to Otello, and not everyone really grasps it. Dyneley Hussey in his book on Verdi cites some of the composer's remarks concerning Iago as indicating that Verdi was not a true Shakespearean critic, and thereby blunders straight into the smokescreen of self-attributed simplicity that Verdi liked to hide behind. Sir Edward Heath found Otello `not life-enhancing like Fidelio'. I can well believe that the naïve idealised message of Fidelio with its prisoners being released from their chains would have meant a lot more to Heath as he aspired to free Britain from the Wilson Terror, and that the electric sense of sexual tension that crackles through Otello was a territory as unknown to Heath as to Beethoven himself. Verdi's comments on Iago do not seem simplistic to me, and the character clearly fascinated him. Iago acts from pure calculated malice, something he even believes in as a doctrine. To trigger his malice all it takes is to get on his nerves, as Othello does; and while Iago's malevolence only acts on a small scale many critics have seen his character as typifying one aspect of pure evil. The music Verdi gives him, by turns portentous, grotesque and ingratiating, is complex and elusive in expression, and it is this aspect that Serafin captures with exceptional success.
Shakespeare's Othello is a very operatic tragedy in its own right, before Verdi and his librettist Boito set their own stamp on it. In many ways it might seem the simplest of the Bard's tragedies, but the character of Iago makes it, for me at least, actually the most elusive. As well as having an acute ear for that portrayal Serafin grasps what for me is another key element, namely the way Verdi stands back from the love interest despite the savage drama it gives rise to. The love duet is surpassingly beautiful in an idyllic way, but one has only to think of Tristan to hear the difference between a genuinely erotic drama and the hypertense atmosphere of suspected sexual betrayal and vengefulness out of control that Verdi evokes.
All that, plus the singing of Vickers and Gobbi, leaves me wanting to rate this performance in the highest bracket. The set includes an elaborate booklet containing everything necessary, such as a summary of the plot together with the full libretto (translated into English only, you may be pleased to hear). There are also two sympathetic and informative, if slightly rambling, liner essays. Perfection remains elusive, but I wonder whether I would even know it if I encountered it when it comes to this work."