lgopno06Schatten.jpg (7788 Byte)

seit/since 1999

Otello - La Maestranza Sevilla


gbf.wmf (2006 Byte)  English












Teatro de la Maestranza, Sevilla, Premiere October 25, 2002

Impressions and contents Part 1  -  Partl 2 Part 3


A strange sight for a premiere ! Orchestra strike in Seville

Photos: Teatro de la Maestranza, Birgit Popp Text: Birgit Popp

Certainly Carlos Álvarez would have appreciated to have his stage debut as Jago in Verdi's Otello with less dramatic circumstances, as this was the case in Seville (ESP) at October 25, 2002. Nevertheless, it became an outstanding performance of the Spanish baritone. But, step by step: For all four Otello performances the Symphonic Orchestra of Seville had announced a strike. The orchestra does not belong to the the Seville opera house Teatro de la Maestranza, but uses it for about forty symphonic concerts per season and plays all operas given in this house. Therefore, the strike would have meant that all Otello performances would have to be cancelled. To avoid this, the management of the Teatro de la Maestranza decided to move all four performances for one day. It believed that with this action a strike could be averted because due to Spanish law a strike would have to be announced at least two weeks in advance, otherwise it would be illegal. This circumstance did not bother about fifty percent of the orchestra members. They moved all dates of the strike also for one day. At the evening of the premiere a bit more than half of the orchester members appeared and wanted to play, but with half of the players no opera could have been given and also they were sent back home.

The savior of the premiere:
Leonardo Catalanotte
But, the Spanish conductor Jesús López  Cobos agreed to a performance just with piano and saved the premiere with this decision together with the pianist Leonardo Catalanotte, who had originally been engaged as correpetitor and director of the stage musicians. The trumpets on the stage were placed choreographically a bit differently and were conducted by the choir director Valentino Metti together with the choir. Leonardo Catalanotte was sitting like during the piano rehearsals as the only companion of the singers with his piano next to the conductor in the orchestra pitch.
Just about ten per cent of the audience made use of the theater's offer to leave the performance and to receive back their ticket fees. One thing is for certain, new friends the Seville orchestra has not found with its action. When at the end of the second performance the conductor asked the orchestra members to raise from their chairs for the final applause, a storm of booing broke out.

Carlos Álvarez as Jago
The star of the performances was without doubt Carlos Álvarez, whose stage debut as Jago had been followed with great attention in Spain. And, if with or without orchestra, it was a splendid premiere for the singer from Málaga, with whose stage presence and vocal qualities only few singers can compete. That his popularity in Spain and in other places like Vienna comes already - after just a third of the tenor's years on stage - close to Plácido Domingo's, does not come without reason, including the human aspect.That Carlos Álvarez, who can be mainly seen in positive characters like the Marquis de Posa in Don Carlos or Carlos in Ernani, reminds as Jago about Henry Fonda in 'Play me the song of death' does not surprise either. Evil and spiteful, but still a sympathetic figure ..... 
The reason is not only to search in his own person, but also in his view of the role of Jago, "Jago must be a calm and quiet person, in whom someone does not recognize the evil on the first glance. Not his exterior is evil, but his acting and his interior." Vocally the role suits Carlos Álvarez very well like all Verdi parts. So, for example, he can bring to bear very well his excellent sense for rhythm in the drinking song of the first act or his skillful interplay between piani on one side and forte outbreaks on the other side in the Credo of the second act.

Rank Porretta
Jago is the real protagonist of the opera, although Verdi and his librettist Arrigo Boito have hold on to Shakespeare's title Otello. Otello himself is brought on stage by the US-American tenor Frank Porretta. The Julliard School graduate can look upon a musical career, which is quite unusual for an opera singer. He has started as a musical and rock singer, before he began to let his voice blossom without microphone on the opera stage at the end of the nineties.  
The part of the Moor of Venice, whom he had embodied already in smaller opera houses in the U.S.A., was the European debut of Frank Porretta, who counts to his actual roles also Cavaradossi (Tosca), Kalaf (Turandot), Radamés (Aida) and Manrico (Il travatore) and who will debut soon in Andrea Chernier and La bohčme. With his stoic calm, which appears quite unusual for tenors, he considers it for natural to sing a part like Otello, which is for most tenors the crowning of a long career, already at the beginning of his operatic career, "Vocally the part is not very difficult for me. I can also very well put myself into the character of Otello, though it is not close to my own one, and I love Verdi." But, the giant New York citizen comes up also with other surprises: his piani are very sensible and sung with a beautiful voice and also in his acting is very sensitive.

Hasmik Papian


At his side as his wife Desdemona acts the in Vienna living, Armenian born Hasmik Papian. The at all major opera houses of the world celebrated soprano performed the ballad of the willow and her prayer in the fourth act shortly before her violent death through Otello's hands very charmingly and with touching voice. At the same time she is a strong wife, who presents to Otello the in her eyes just case, the reinstatement of Cassio in the rank of a captain, vehemently and persistently. A woman, who knows, what she wants, and who is not only the submissive wife. This fact leads finally to her fatal ruin, without that she would know why.

The through Jago as the lover of Otello's wife reported and by wrong proofs seemingly convicted Cassio brings with Ángel Rodríguez a young Spanish tenor on stage, whose voice is coined by a beautiful sound, clear heights, good flow of the lines and carrying capacity. It would be very welcome to hear him more often as so far also in bigger parts. 

Carlos Álvarez and Ángel Rodríguez

As the Venetian envoy Lodovico Stefano Palatchi comes up with a powerful, well-tempered bass. Also all smaller parts were well cast with the tenor Vincenc Esteve Madrid as Roderigo, the baritone Juan Tomás Martínez, who was at the same time for the case of the cases the Jago cover, as Montano, the bass baritone Fernando Latorre as herald and the mezzo-soprano Marina Pardo as Emilia.

Fernando Latorre, Vicenc Esteve Madrid, Leonardo Catalanotte (from left)

 The choir had his by Valentino Metti well rehearsed appearances especially with the sonorous choir of the first act and the with homage paying tenderness offered song in honor of Desdemona in the second act. The musical director Jesús López Cobos, who will become in the next season the musical director of the Teatro Real at Madrid, worked out very precisely and with great sensitivity the dynamics and especially the pianissimi of the score and offered with the - when present - orchester a sounding arc of tension. But a special 'bravo' has to be given also in this place to the Italian pianist Leonardo Catalanotte, the savor of the first night.

  Birgit Popp



Oper in vier Akten/Opera in four acts

Musik/Music: Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901)

Libretto: Arrigo Boito (1842 - 1918)
basierend/based auf/on William Shakespeare's Othello



  Jesús López Cobos

Regisseur/Stage director

  Nicolas Joel


  Ezio Frigerio


  Vinicio Cheli

Chordirektor/Choir director

  Valentino Metti



Leonardo Catalanotte


  Frank Porretta


  Carlos Álvarez


  Ángel Rodríguez


  Viççenç Esteve Madrid


  Stefano Palatchi


  Juan Tomás Martínez


Fernando Latorre


Hasmik Papian


Marina Pardo

Chor des Teatros de la Maestranza

Sinfonie-Orchester Sevilla

Impressions and contents

Part 1  -  Partl 2 Part 3





Copyright for Text & Layout © 1998 - 2012 Birgit Popp

Alle Angaben ohne Gewähr. Für die Gültigkeit und Richtigkeit der auf dieser Website veröffentlichten Namen, Angaben, Termine und Daten wird keine Haftung übernommen, ebensowenig für den Inhalt von Websites, auf die Links verweisen. No responsibility is taken for the correctness of names, dates or other information published on this website as well as for the contents of websites links are pinting to.