Opera in four acts (1887)
Composer Giuseppe Verdi · Libretto by Arrigo Boito based on the play of the same title „Othello“ by William Shakespeare
In Italian with German and English surtitles | New Production
Wednesday, 28. November 2018
07:00 pm – 10:15 pm
Duration est. 3 hours 15 minutes · 1. + 2. Akt (est. 07:00 pm - 08:15 pm ) · Interval (est. 08:15 pm - 08:50 pm ) · 3. + 4. Akt (est. 08:50 pm - 10:05 pm )
Introductory Event: 06:00 PM
Open ticket sales. The number of tickets per customer is reduced to 2.
Premiere at 23. November 2018
#BSOotelloDownload Cast List (PDF)
Dates & Tickets
- Musikalische Leitung
- Kirill Petrenko
- Amélie Niermeyer
- Christian Schmidt
- Annelies Vanlaere
OTELLO: Anja Harteros singt „Ave Maria“
OTELLO: Jonas Kaufmann singt „Dio! Mi potevi scagliar“
Like an outcry the elemental force of the orchestra shatters the silence, the storm on the coast of Cyprus rages incessantly. The wind whips, lightening cuts through the roaring skies. Giuseppe Verdi anticipated the sedition in the hearts of his characters in the revolting nature. His penultimate opera, with which he once again produced musical drama after a longer creative break, takes the listener by the throat and holds them so until the inevitable end. As Othello, the great general and commander becomes entangled in Iago's web of machinations; as the calamitous seed of jealousy germinates and Othello's love for his wife Desdemona begins to decay, even on their wedding day; as Desdemona, "nevertheless insists, although she senses or feels that this harm comes her way, and that Othello in his jealousy is really capable of killing her" (Amélie Niermeyer) – with his Otello Verdi created an operatic drama, the likes of which had never before been so tight, so direct, so intensive and so beautiful, and still today unmatched.
With tension, fear and anticipation, Desdemona awaits the arrival of her husband Otello who, as supreme commander of the Venetian fleet, had to fight a great sea battle. But not everyone is concerned about him. Roderigo and Jago would rather his ship were wrecked than have a safe landing. Otello is victorious, though, but marked from battle. Jago, overlooked for promotion as a soldier of Otello in favour of Cassio, goads Roderigo, a once-rejected suitor of Desdemona, on to revenge. Above all, he should keep an eye on his alleged rival Cassio. With the advice that tonight shall be the wedding night of Otello and Desdemona, and everyone shall toast her beauty, Jago incites Cassio to drink. Quickly losing control of his senses, Cassio reacts violently to Roderigo’s provocation and injures Montano, the former governor. Otello alone is able to stop the fight. He demotes Cassio and orders, furiously, as Desdemona is shocked by the commotion, everyone to return to their homes. For the first time since their wedding, Otello and Desdemona are alone again. With the memory of the beginning of their shared love, the desire and yearning for togetherness return. Desdemona believes that love can heal all of Otello’s war wounds. They kiss.
Jago recommends Cassio to turn to Desdemona in order to regain his position with Otello. Cassio decides to take his advice. With the newly-found knowledge of how easily people fall for his schemes, Jago devises a devilish confession: his existence as the embodiment of evil. Otello believes he has seen Cassio with Desdemona and, with suggestive questions, Jago sows seeds of doubt within Otello about his former friend, resulting in the poisoned advice to beware of jealousy. In a semi-improvised ceremony, Desdemona is celebrated like a saint. But as she pleads with her husband to show Cassio mercy, Otello immediately senses treachery. He gruffly fends off Desdemona and throws her handkerchief to the floor. Jago’s wife Emilia picks it up but Jago takes possession of it with the intention of strengthening his scheme. Otello demands proof from Jago of Desdemona’s infidelity. He tells of how Cassio spoke of Desdemona in his sleep and that he even saw her handkerchief in his possession. Otello believes his suspicions to be confirmed, while Jago entices him to swear an oath to carry out revenge.
Once again, Desdemona pleads with her husband on Cassio’s behalf. The fact that false suspicions have blinded him does not enter her imagination. Otello demands to see the handkerchief that Jago has brought into his possession. Angry that Desdemona has lost it and believing that she has given it to a lover, he cynically curses her as a whore and sends her away. His will to live has gone. For the benefit of the eavesdropping Otello, Jago stages a conversation with Cassio, in which the latter apparently reveals his affair with Desdemona and shows the handkerchief which has been placed by Jago in his apartment. Furious with jealousy, Otello is now convinced of Desdemona’s guilt. Lodovico, the Venetian ambassador, brings news of Otello’s recall to Venice, and Cassio is named as his successor. Otello humiliates Desdemona. It is now clear to her that her relationship with him is irreparably broken. Jago goads Roderigo to murder Cassio, and Otello to fatal revenge on Desdemona. Otello sends everyone away and breaks down. Jago triumphs.
Desdemona, who had believed that she could be happy with Otello despite all their difficulties, is now filled with dark misgivings. She sings the Willow Song that one of her mother’s handmaids once sung, the one who was abandoned by her lover and subsequently left her job. She prays an Ave Maria. Otello enters the room. He kisses his wife. Desdemona awakes, and he pronounces her death. She protests her innocence, but Otello declines to hear her arguments. He strangles her. Emilia bursts in and says that Cassio has killed Roderigo. Otello still believes he is right. Only when Jago and Lodovico enter can Emilia uncover her husband’s scheme. Otello realises his mistake and stabs himself. Dying, he kisses his murdered wife one last time.
© Bayerische Staatsoper
Kirill Petrenko was born in Omsk in 1972 where he studied piano at the College of Music. At the age of eleven he gave his first public performance as a pianist with the Omsk Symphony Orchestra. In 1990 his family (his father a violinist and his mother a musicologist) relocated to Vorarlberg where his father worked as an orchestra musician and music teacher. Petrenko first continued his studies in Feldkirch before moving to Vienna to study conducting at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts.
His first job after graduation took him directly to the Vienna Volksoper where he was hired by Nikolaus Bachler as Kapellmeister. From 1999 until 2002 Kirill Petrenko was General Music Director at the Meininger Theater. It was in 2001 in his role as conductor of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, in the production by Christine Mielitz and with scenery by Alfred Hrdlicka, that he first achieved international acclaim. In 2002 Kirill Petrenko became General Music Director of the Komische Oper Berlin where, until 2007, he was credited with a series of highly significant productions.
During his time in Meiningen and Berlin his international career also began to flourish. In 2000 Kirill Petrenko made his debut at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, in 2001 at the Vienna Staatsoper and the Dresden Semperoper, in 2003 at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Opéra National de Paris, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the New York Metropolitan Opera and in 2005 at the Oper Frankfurt. In Lyon, in collaboration with Peter Stein, he conducted all three Pushkin-inspired operas by Tchaikovsky (Mazeppa, Eugene Onegin and Pique Dame) from 2006 until 2008, which were also performed as a cycle in early 2010.
After moving on from the Komische Oper Berlin Kirill Petrenko worked as a freelance conductor. During this period his projects included conducting a new production of Leoš Janáček's Jenůfa (Production: Barbara Frey) at the Bayerische Staatsoper in 2009. In Frankfurt he conducted Pfitzner's Palestrina (Production: Harry Kupfer) and Puccini's Tosca (Production: Andreas Kriegenburg). In 2011 he worked on two new productions of Tristan and Isolde at the Opéra National de Lyon and at the Ruhrtriennale.
To date, the most important orchestras Kirill Petrenko has been invited to conduct include the Berlin Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the BR Symphony Orchestra, the Bayerische Staatsorchester, the WDR Cologne Symphony Orchestra, the Hamburg Philharmonic and the NDR Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Opern- und Museumsorchester, the Amsterdam Concertgebouworkest, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Turin and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Kirill Petrenko has also conducted concerts at the Bregenz and Salzburg Festivals. From 2013 to 2015 he swung his baton for the new production of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen during the Bayreuth Festival.
Since September 2013 Kirill Petrenko has been General Music Director at the Bayerische Staatsoper. He will be working in this position until the end of the 2019/20 season. Since 2013, he has taken to the rostrum for premieres of Die Frau ohne Schatten, La clemenza di Tito, Die Soldaten, Lucia di Lammermoor, Lulu, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsenk District and Tannhäuser as well as the world premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s South Pole and a revival of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen among other works. In June 2015, Kirill Petrenko was named future Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, starting this position in autumn 2019.
In the current season at the Bayerische Staatsoper Kirill Petrenko led an new production of Verdi's Otello and Strauss' Salome. Furthermore, Kirill Petrenko conducts revivals of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Fidelio, and Parsifal as well as two Academy Concerts with the Bayerische Staatsorchester.