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Opera ! PREMIERE ! Giuseppe Verdi "Otello" (opera in four acts)
Production by Yuri Alexandrov (2001)

World famous Mariinsky Ballet and Opera - established 1783

Running time: 3 hours

Schedule for ! PREMIERE ! Giuseppe Verdi "Otello" (opera in four acts)
Production by Yuri Alexandrov (2001) 2022

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Stage Director: Yuri Alexandrov

Orchestra: Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra

Premiere of this production: 24 June 2001

opera in four acts
Music: Giuseppe Verdi
Production by Yuri Alexandrov (2001)

Libretto: Arrigo Boito, after William Shakespeare’s tragedy "Otello, or The Moor of Venice"

Musical Director - Valery Gergiev
Stage Director - Yuri Alexandrov
Set Designer - Semyon Pastukh
Costume Designer - Galina Solovyova
Lighting Designer - Gleb Filshtinsky
Principal Chorus Master - Andrei Petrenko
Musical Preparation - Alla Brosterman



As a tempest rages in the harbor of Cyprus, citizens await the arrival of their governor, Otello. Sighting his ship, the Cypriots call on heaven to spare it. Safely in port, Otello proclaims victory over the Turks ("Esultate!"), then enters his castle. His ensign, Iago, angered by the promotion of his rival, Cassio, fans the secret desires of Roderigo, a Venetian dandy, for Otello’s wife, Desdemona. When the Cypriots gather around a celebratory bonfire, Iago leads a drinking song (brindisi: "Inaffia l’ugola"), enticing the easily intoxicated Cassio to drink a toast to Otello and his bride. The ensign then provokes Roderigo to duel with the reeling Cassio. Otello’s predecessor, Montano, tries to intervene and is wounded by Cassio. When Otello, awakened by the brawl, demands an explanation, Iago pretends ignorance of the cause of the quarrel. Seeing that Desdemona too has been disturbed by the fray, Otello demotes Cassio, instructing Iago to restore order. Otello and Desdemona, left alone, tenderly recall their courtship ("Giа nella notte densa").


By the castle garden, Iago advises Cassio to seek Desdemona’s aid in regaining Otello’s favor. Cassio goes off, and Iago professes his belief in a cruel god, in whose image man was created ("Credo"). On Otello’s arrival, the ensign calls attention to Cassio, departing from Desdemona and Emilia, Iago’s wife, in the garden. Making subtle innuendos about Desdemona’s fidelity, Iago warns the Moor to beware of jealousy. Women, children and sailors bring flowers to Desdemona, whose beauty softens Otello’s newly aroused suspicions, but when she approaches him about Cassio’s reinstatement, he grows irritable. She tries to soothe his brow with a handkerchief, but he throws it to the ground. As Desdemona pleads her devotion, Iago furtively wrests the handkerchief from Emilia, who has retrieved it. When the women leave, Otello accuses his ensign of destroying his peace of mind. Iago answers the Moor’s demands for proof by claiming he has heard Cassio murmur Desdemona’s name in his sleep ("Era la notte"); worse, he says he has seen in Cassio’s hand the embroidered handkerchief Otello gave her when he first courted her. Seconded by Iago, Otello vows vengeance ("Sм, pel ciel").


In the armory, Iago promises Otello more proof, then departs as Desdemona greets her husband ("Dio ti giocondi"). The Moor hints at his suspicions, but she fails to understand. When he demands the handkerchief, she pleads again for Cassio. Otello, sure of her guilt, calls her a courtesan. She tearfully declares her innocence, but the Moor sends her away. His rage spent, he reflects brokenly that he could have endured any affliction but this ("Dio! mi potevi scagliar"), then hides as Cassio and Iago approach. The latter, flashing the handkerchief, manipulates Cassio’s banter about his mistress so that Otello thinks he means Desdemona. Cassio leaves as trumpets announce dignitaries from Venice. Otello resolves to kill his wife.

In the great hall, the court enters to welcome Lodovico, the ambassador, who brings orders recalling Otello to Venice and naming Cassio governor. Losing his self-control, Otello hurls Desdemona to the floor. She begs forgiveness for her supposed crime. As the stunned courtiers try to console her, Otello orders them out. The Moor falls in a fit, and Iago ironically salutes him as the Lion of Venice.


In her room, as Emilia helps her prepare for bed, Desdemona sings a song about a maid forsaken by her lover ("Salce! Salce!"). She bids Emilia goodnight, says her prayers ("Ave Maria") and retires. Otello steals in and tenderly kisses her. When she awakens, he tells her to prepare for death; though she protests her innocence, he smothers her. Emilia returns with the news that Cassio has slain Roderigo. Hearing Desdemona’s death moan, she cries for help, bringing Iago, Lodovico and Cassio. When Emilia exposes Iago’s treachery, he rushes from the room. Otello, realizing he has been deceived ("Niun mi tema"), stabs himself and dies upon a kiss.

  • Characters

    Premiere 24 June 2001
    Running time: 3 hours

    Schedule for ! PREMIERE ! Giuseppe Verdi "Otello" (opera in four acts)
    Production by Yuri Alexandrov (2001) 2022

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