After an absence of more than 30 years from the stage of the teatro degollado, Verdi’s Otello returned with a strong cast and a traditional production by Ragnar Conde (November 23). Under Marco Parisotto the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco sounded rich and colourful, benefiting from the Degollado’s magnificent acoustic. Being an orchestra more used to the symphonic repertoire, it needed at times to blend in more with the singers, especially at the loudest moments of the score, but it nevertheless lent the performance wonderful sonorous atmosphere, and Parisotto conducted with fluency and panache. The Coro Municipal de Zapopan made a great sound and moved well on stage.
The three principals were all making role debuts. Issachah Savage sang Otello with a powerful, warm voice, secure high notes and a lovely timbre, emphasizing his inner suffering rather than his fury. His death scene was very touching. Maija Kovalevska’s Desdemona was a treat. Her voice has grown and she is now a full lyric soprano ideally suited to Verdian roles such as this one—an iconic role for Mirella Freni, her teacher. Her phrasing was beautifully done; her voice bloomed in the middle register, and her blazing high notes filled the theatre. Her Desdemona was an innocent yet strong woman who faced death with courage, thus proving her love for Otello. Michael Chioldi was a force of nature as Iago. His is a true Verdi baritone: a big voice with wonderful legato and clear diction, dark-timbred but with shining high notes. He also has a magnetic stage presence.
Harold Meers was a handsome, well-sung Cassio, Cassandra Zoé Velasco a noble Emilia, and Daniel Montenegro a strong Roderigo. Josué Cerón brought elegance to the short role of Montano, and Grigory Soloviov was a commanding Lodovico.
Brisa Alonso’s gorgeous-looking costumes helped to create a visual concept that seemed to be taken from paintings of the 15th or 16th centuries. Conde’s staging used the same set for all the acts, with projections delineating the different places and times. His direction gave fluency to the story and was enriched by the acting skills of the singers—who, along with the rest of the team, deserve congratulations for mounting such a high-calibre production in Guadalajara, which did such convincing justice to Verdi’s opera.
Opera, April 2017