Domingo or Domingo?
Mark | United States | 04/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is a new release of a video Otello starring Placido Domingo in the title role. On DVD, there are already at least 3 of his Otellos, but this one surpasses them all.Domingo is outstanding, a bit better than in the Covent Garden production. He is in great voice, singing and acting magnificiently. There are some few strained passages ("vil cortigiana", "venere splende") but somehow they come out exciting as well. Morris and Fleming are of equal greatness. Morris has played an evil, manipulant Iago in his voice, and Fleming as Desdemona is the best I have ever heard. Levine as conductor is great as well. His job must have been "easier" with this incredible cast.The overall "movie impression" is worth of a great Hollywood piece of art. Not only is the singing outstanding but the acting of all the cast is incredible. I have never seen that before in any other opera DVD. When Otello slaps Desdemona you would actually jump of your seat as I've never seen such a realistic scene. Otello's fainting in the 3d act couldn't be more realistic. This list is long and encompasses the "Esultate", the act1 love scene, "Ora e per sempre"....and all the great ones.At the end of the performance, you couldn't but join your screaming and cheers to those of the Met crowd.Finally, a lot still argue about Domingo in the title role, and compare him to Vickers and Del Monaco. While everyone has his own opinion on the subject, let's be objective for a second:
Del Monaco's DVD in black and White with lips problem cannot compare to this good DVD production. Vicker's with Karajan has cuts, awful overall acting, and again lips problem, even though performance is amazing.
This is the BEST AVAILABLE OTELLO DVD (to date, I have said that same sentence when reviewing Covent Garden's.)I highly Recommend it!"
Domingo's Best Performance Ever!
operamaryc | DIAMOND BAR, CA United States | 04/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen Domingo perform Otello live about 24 times including being in the audience the night this was filmed as well as opening night. This was the most magical night in all my years of going to opera. The electric energy flying around the stage between the principals and the audience was almost unbearable. While waiting in line to see Renee backstage, the prompter (she has been with the Met some 40 years) asked if we had seen the opening night performance and we answered in the affirmative and she said "Well, I think tonight was better, in fact, I think it is the best performance of Otello I've ever seen!" And, I figure she's seen a few including those of Domingo. His acting in this performance is superb! He is Otello! James Morris was manipulative, evil and charming at the same time. Renee was a wonder! In fact the reviewer at the time for the L. A. Times said it should have been called "Desdemona" so enchanted with her performance was he. She had just given birth to her second daughter 3 weeks earlier and apologized to us for greeting us in her dressing room sitting down! After she falls on the floor, sings on the floor, runs and puts her entire heart and soul into her performance! The lady was forgiven! Domingo was in an extremely good mood after an opera that usually totally exhausts him! He knew that this was a very special performance. Thank you Met for broadcasting this as I watch it frequently and my tape is almost worn out! I've been waiting for this opera to be released as one of the most outstanding productions and casts ever of my favorite opera and now they have done it! If you can only buy one DVD this year, make it this one! Also, it's history, as you'll never see him again, or anyone else, I wager, that can come close to capturing the character and singing it as well as he does. This is opera magic!!!"
Bravi, e Tutti! ...
JGM | New York, USA | 11/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw and heard Placido Domingo sing this role in the late seventies and early eighties, when the role was new to him. His interpretation then was that of a man in his early forties (where I am now), consumed by erotic fire and passion, and by anger at the racism and hypocrisies of the society in which he had risen, all of these emotions came together in his overwhelming and obsessive love for Desdemona.
Renata Scotto and Kiri Tekanawa both sang sensitive early interpretations of this misunderstood character, Desdemona, but Rene Fleming (though she is not a natural Verdi soprano) is simply unsurpassed in the delicacy and fragility of her phrasing, in her understanding of her character's love for this troubled man -- a love which makes her vulnerable and yet gives her strength.
With the passage of the years, Domingo's portrayal has become more sensitive and lyrical. The vocal heroics may not be what they were, though they still are in this late performance, but the infinite resignation and pathos of the final "Niun Mi Tema," would have been utterly impossible for the younger tenor.
The sense of tragedy and loss conveyed in this performance defies description or summary: it has to be experienced to be believed. It ensures Domingo's place as perhaps THE greatest "Otello" of the twentieth century. He joins the ranks of his heros -- Ramon Vinay, Giovani Martinelli and Mario Del Monaco in performing this greatest of all dramatic Operatic roles.
The cream of Domingo on DVD as Otello
Toni Bernhard | Davis, CA United States | 05/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen three DVD's featuring Placido Domingo in the title role: 1992 (Covent Garden), 1995 (The Met), and 2001 (La Scala). They are all high quality and worth owning but, in my opinion, this Met production has the best Desdemona (Renee Fleming), the best Iago (James Morris), and a stunning performance by Placido Domingo.
Some comparisons. Domingo's voice is clearest and most effortless in the Covent Garden production. But his understanding of the role deepens dramatically between 1992 and 1995. By 2001, he embodies Otello, but his voice is not as full-bodied and is strained in places. His overall best performance is in this 1995 production. This conclusion is not just a compromise between when he's youngest in voice (1992) and most experienced in acting (2001). In Acts III and IV of The Met production, it feels as if Domingo is no longer performing; he becomes Otello. Words are inadequate to describe him here; it simply has to be experienced. His work in Otello's Act III soliloquy, the brief "Dio! Mi potevi," is one of the finest two minutes I've seen in opera. And he is simply spellbinding in Act IV, as he crawls dying toward Desdemona, crying out for a kiss while the "kiss theme" from their Act I duet plays.
The three Desdemona's are Kiri Te Kanawa (1992 Covent Garden), Renee Fleming (1995 The Met), and Barbara Frittoli (2001 La Scala). All excel in different ways. Desdemona is a challenge to play. It's hard to convince an audience that she would so submissively accept the unjust fate she knows is about to befall her. Perhaps her love for Otello is so strong, she believes it will eventually bring him to his senses. Perhaps she's in a steadily increasing state of shock over his irrational behavior, shock that prevents her from acting. Perhaps she sees no choice but to accept whatever consequence follows from her bold move of having left her homeland to follow the Moor. These are but three possible approaches to the role.
For purity of voice and lyrical quality, Te Kanawa (Covent Garden) is unsurpassed, but her acting is weak. Some might call her portrayal of Desdemona restrained; I find it too wooden. But it's worth seeing Te Kanawa to hear the purity of her voice, especially in Act IV's "Ave Maria" prayer. Frittoli (La Scala) has a beautiful dark and dusky voice, and her portrayal of Desdemona as young and naive is moving.
But Fleming's Met performance surpasses the other two. Her voice is more expressive and she's a better actress. In Otello and Desdemona's Act I duet, "Gia nella notte densa," I can hardly breathe when Fleming and Domingo get to the kiss. The tenderness between them is palpable. In their duet and her "first tears" solo at the beginning of Act III, Fleming's combination of incomprehension, pain, and fear is heartrending. In Act IV, Fleming draws us to her sadly but quietly in the Willow Song only to stun us with her cry of terror at the end: "Ah! Emilia addio, Emilia, addio." I've read that this one short cry must communicate all the passion of an entire song. That's a tall order and, in my opinion, only Fleming pulls it off.
Frittoli (La Scala) plays Desdemona as in an increasing state of shock. It's believable and effective, but Fleming's performance is deeper because it's multi-layered. To flesh out the character, I think Fleming incorporates all three of the approaches I described above, making Desdemona a more complex woman.
A performer can take several approaches to Iago. There is no subtlety in Sergei Leiferkus' approach (Covent Garden). He exudes slimy evil intent, looking crazed at times. I think there's also a sexual component to his characterization (whether aimed at Desdemona or Otello, I couldn't say). Leo Nucci (La Scala) takes a more traditional approach to Iago, playing him as a nasty schemer. But once again, I prefer The Met production's James Morris. His Iago is the most frightening to me because he's seemingly so personable around Otello. His smile and his smooth baritone voice run chills down my spine.
I prefer The Met DVD over the others, but you can't go wrong with any of the three. Bottom line, I recommend you don't miss Domingo as Otello in this powerful Verdi opera.