Compositions

Otello (Solti)

Otello (Solti)
Year:1887
Genre:Opera
Composer:Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:Sir Georg Solti
Performers:
 

Libretto

Otello is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare's play Othello. It was Verdi's second to last opera and is considered by many to be his greatest.

Act 1
In front of the castle, next to the harbor

On a stormy night, the people of Cyprus anxiously await the arrival of the new governor, Otello, from the battle with the Turks (Chorus, Montana, Cassio, Iago, Roderigo: Una vela! Una vela! - "A sail! Jubilation!"). Otello arrives safely and announces that the Turkish fleet has been destroyed, and the Cypriots cheer (Otello, chorus: Esultate! L’orgoglio musulmano / "Rejoice! The Mussulman's pride is buried in the sea").

Otello's ensign, Iago, offers to help a young Venetian gentleman Roderigo in his seduction of Othello's wife Desdemona, because he (Iago) wants revenge against the Moor (Iago, Roderigo: Roderigo, ebben che pensi? / "Well, Roderigo, what are you thinking?"). Otello has appointed Cassio to be the captain of the navy, a position that Iago hoped to have. The people of Cyprus celebrate the navy's safe return by lighting a bonfire (Chorus: Fuoco di gioia! / "Fire of joy").

In the tavern, Iago proposes a toast to Otello and his wife, while Cassio fulsomely praises Desdemona (Iago, Cassio, Chorus, Roderigo: Roderigo, beviam! / "Roderigo, let's drink!"). Iago offers Cassio wine, but Cassio says he has had enough. Iago pressures him, and when Iago offers a toast to Otello and Desdemona, Cassio gives in. Iago sings a drinking song and continues to pour Cassio wine (Iago, Cassio, Roderigo, chorus: Inaffia l'ugola! / "Wet your throat").

Montano enters and calls for Cassio to begin his watch, but he is surprised to find Cassio drunk and barely able to stand upright. To Montano's surprise, Iago explains that this is how Cassio spends every evening. Roderigo laughs at Cassio's drunkenness and Cassio attacks him. Montano tells Cassio to refrain, but Cassio draws his sword and threatens to crack open Montano's head (Montano, Cassio, Iago, Roderigo, chorus: Capitano, v’attende la fazione ai baluardi / "Captain, the guard awaits you on the ramparts"). Cassio and Montano begin to duel, and Iago sends Roderigo to call the alarm. Cassio wounds Montano as Otello enters and orders them to lower their swords.

Otello asks "honest Iago" to explain how the duel began, but Iago says he doesn't know. Otello then turns to Cassio, who feels embarrassed and cannot excuse his actions. When Otello discovers that Montano is wounded, he becomes enraged. Desdemona enters, and, upon seeing that his bride's rest has been disturbed, Otello declares that Cassio is no longer Captain (Otello, Iago, Cassio, Montano: Abbasso le spade / "Down with your swords").

The Cypriots leave Otello alone with Desdemona. Together Otello and Desdemona recall why they fell in love. They kiss and then walk back to the castle (Otello, Desdemona: Gia nella notte densa / "Already in the dense night").


Act 2
Inside the castle, a chamber next to the garden

Iago suggests Cassio should ask Desdemona to talk to Otello about his demotion, because Desdemona can influence her husband to reinstate him (Iago, Cassio: Non ti crucciar / "Do not fret. If you trust in me..."). Desdemona and Emilia enter, and Cassio begins to plead with Desdemona. Iago watches them and proclaims his evil Credo (Credo in un Dio crudel / "I believe in a cruel God").

Otello enters; Iago, pretending not to notice him, says that he is deeply troubled. Otello asks what's wrong, and Iago responds by giving vague answers. Finally he hints that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. Otello feels himself becoming jealous, but he wants proof of Desdemona's betrayal first (Iago, Otello: Cio m’accora.. che parli? / "I like not that").

A crowd of children, sailors, and Cypriots encircles Desdemona, praising her beauty and purity (Chorus, Iago, children, Desdemona, Otello: Dove guardi splendono raggi / "Where'er you look, brightness shines..."). They leave her gifts and wish her happiness before leaving.

Desdemona carries Cassio's request for reinstatement to Otello. Otello sourly tells her to ask him another time, and says he has a headache. Desdemona wraps his head in a handkerchief Otello once gave her, linen embroidered with strawberries. Otello throws it to the ground and says he doesn't need it (Desdemona, Otello: D'un uom che geme sotto il tuo disdegno / "I bring a petition from who suffers under your displeasure"). Emilia picks up the handkerchief. Desdemona asks for Otello's forgiveness. Aside, Iago demands that Emilia give him the handkerchief. When she refuses, Iago takes it from her. "Sì, pel ciel marmoreo giuro!"

Otello dismisses the others, and sings that he now believes that Desdemona may be deceiving him (Otello: Ora è per sempre addio / "Now and forever farewell, holy memories"). Iago returns, and the jealous Otello demands proof of Desdemona's infidelity. Iago says that once, when he and Cassio were sleeping in the same room, he heard Cassio talking to Desdemona in a dream. In the dream, says Iago, Cassio told Desdemona that they must be careful to conceal their love (Iago: Era la notte, Cassio dormia / "It was night, Cassio was sleeping"). Iago says that dreams don't prove anything, but remarks that he saw Cassio carrying Desdemona's strawberry-embroidered handkerchief just the day before. Together, Otello and Iago swear vengeance on Desdemona (Otello, Iago: Sì, pel ciel marmoreo giuro / "Yes, by the marble heavens I swear").

Act 3

The great hall of the castle. A small hall next to the great hall.

Iago explains to Otello that he will lure Cassio here and talk with him while Otello watches, hidden. He leaves to go get Cassio (Iago: Qui trarrò Cassio... / "Here I will bring Casio and lead him on to gossip").

Desdemona enters and reminds Otello of Cassio's request. Otello says that he still has a headache, and asks her to wrap her handkerchief around his head. When Desdemona produces a different handkerchief, Otello demands the one with strawberries. When she says she does not have it, Otello says that it was a talisman, and troubles will befall her if she loses it. Desdemona says that he is trying to ignore Cassio's plea, and as she asks him about Cassio, he demands the handkerchief ever more insistently (Desdemona, Otello: Dio ti giocondi, o sposo / "God keep you merry, husband..."). Desdemona protests that she is faithful; Otello sends her away (Desdemona, Otello: Esterrefatta fisso/ "Terrified, I face your terrible look").

Otello laments his fate (Dio! mi potevi scagliar tutti I mali / "God, you could have lashed at me" ) when Iago calls out "Cassio is here!" Otello hides as Iago and Cassio enter. Cassio says he had hoped to see Desdemona here, for he wanted to know whether she had been successful with Otello (Iago, Cassio, Otello: Vieni; l’aula e deserta / "Come, the hall is deserted"). Iago asks him to tell of his adventures with that woman. Cassio asks which woman, and, softly, so that Otello cannot hear, Iago says "Bianca" (the name of Cassio's real-life lover). Cassio laughs about his romantic adventures; Otello assumes he is talking about Desdemona. Iago also shows that Cassio has the strawberry-embroidered handkerchief, which Iago had previously hidden in Cassio's house (Iago, Cassio, Otello: Questa e una ragna / "This is a spider's web").

Bugles sound, announcing the arrival of the Venetian ambassador. Iago warns Cassio that he should leave unless he wants to see Otello. Cassio exits, and Otello determines to kill his wife by suffocating her in her bed, while Iago will take care of Cassio.

Lodovico, Desdemona, Emilia, Roderigo, and other dignitaries enter, noting Cassio's absence. Iago tells him that Cassio is out of favor, and Desdemona says that he will soon be restored. Iago explains to the puzzled Lodovico that perhaps Cassio's restoration is her wish. Desdemona says that it is, for she has quite an affection for him. Otello calls her a demon and almost strikes her violently but held by Lodovico. Otello then calls for Cassio (Lodovico, Otello, Desdemona, Emilia, Iago, chorus: Il Doge ed il Senato salutano / "The Doge and the Senate greet the triumphant hero"). Cassio enters and Otello reads a letter from the Doge, announcing that he (Otello) has been called back to Venice and Cassio is the new Duke of Cyprus. Enraged, Otello throws Desdemona to the ground (Otello, Roderigo, Iago, Cassio, Lodovico: Messeri!... Il Doge... / "Gentlemen! The Doge..." )

Desdemona on the ground, laments (A terra! … sì … nel livido fango / "Fallen! Yes, in the leaden dust..."). Emilia and Lodovico comfort Desdemona. Aside, Iago tells Otello that tonight is the night to take revenge. Iago then secretly tells Roderigo that the only way to prevent Desdemona from leaving is for the new Duke to die, and arranges for Roderigo to kill Cassio that night. Otello orders everyone to leave. Desdemona goes to comfort him, but Lodovico drags her away as Otello curses her (Emilia, Cassio, Desdemona, Roderigo, Lodovico, Iago, Otello, chorus: Quell’innocente un fremito / "This innocent one is without feeling or gesture of hatred..."). Otello raves about the handkerchief, then collapses. Iago presses Otello's forehead with his heel, then walks away. Outside the crowd of Cypriots calls out victory and glory for Otello (Otello, Desdemona, Emilia, Cassio, Roderigo, Lodovico, Iago, chorus: Fuggite! / "Begone").


Act 4
Desdemona's chamber. A lit lamp in front of an image of the Virgin Mary.

Desdemona and Emilia are preparing for bed. Desdemona asks Emilia to put out the bridal gown she used on her wedding day, and says that if she dies, she wants to be buried in it. Emilia tells not to talk about such things. Desdemona recalls how her mother had a servant named Barbara, who fell in love with a man but went mad when he left her (Desdemona: Mia madre aveva una povera ancella / "Willow Song") ; (Desdemona, Emilia: Piangea cantando nell’erma landa / "Singing, she wept on the lonely hearth"). After Emilia leaves, Desdemona prays (Ave Maria) and then falls asleep.

Silently, Otello enters, with a sword. He kisses his wife three times; she awakens. Otello asks her if she has prayed tonight, because he does not want to kill her soul. She asks God for mercy, both for her and for Otello. Otello accuses her of sin, saying that he must kill her because she loves Cassio. Desdemona denies it and asks that he summon Cassio on her behalf. Otello says that Cassio is already dead. Desdemona pleads for mercy, but Otello tells her it's too late for that and strangles her (Otello, Desdemona: Diceste questa sera le vostre preci/ "Have you prayed tonight?"). "Niun mi tema"

Emilia knocks at the door, announcing that Cassio has killed Roderigo. Desdemona softly calls out that she has been unjustly accused, and then dies. Emilia calls Otello a murderer; he retorts that Iago gave him proof of Desdemona's infidelity. Otello begins to threaten Emilia, who calls for help. Iago, Cassio, and Lodovico enter. Emilia demands that Iago deny Otello's accusation; he refuses. Otello says that the handkerchief Desdemona gave to Cassio is proof enough. Emilia, horrified, explains that Iago had stolen the handkerchief; Cassio corroborates her story. Montano enters and says that Roderigo, with his dying breath, has revealed Iago's plan. Iago, brandishing his sword, runs away (Emilia, Otello, Desdemona, Cassio, Iago, Lodovico, Montano: Aprite! Aprite! / "Open up!").

After he realizes what has happened, Otello grieves over Desdemona's death. He then draws a dagger from his robe and stabs himself. Others try to stop him but it is too late. Before he dies, he drags himself next to his wife and kisses her. He lies dead next to Desdemona (Otello, Cassio, Lodovico, Montano: Niun mi tema / "That none fear me"). 

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ACT I

1 01 Una vela! Una vela! 4:17 3.93 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
2 02 Esultate! 2:14 2.04 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
3 03 Roderigo, ebben che pensi 2:17 2.10 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
4 04 Fuoco di gioia! 2:43 2.49 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
5 05 Roderigo, beviam! 1:14 1.13 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
6 06 Inaffia l'ugola! Trinca, tracanna 3:52 3.54 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
7 07 Capitano, v'attende la fazione ai baluardi 1:13 1.11 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
8 08 Abbasso le spade! 2:54 2.66 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
9 09 Gia nella notte densa 9:45 8.92 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 

ACT II

1 10 Non ti crucciar 2:14 2.05 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
2 11 Vanne! la tua meta gia vedo 0:27 0.41 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
3 12 Credo in un Dio crudel 5:04 4.64 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
4 13 Cio m'accora 5:02 4.61 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
5 14 Dove guardi splendono 4:00 3.67 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
6 15 D'un uom che gerne sotto il tuo disdegno 1:51 1.70 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
7 16 Se inconscia, contro te, sposo, ho peccato 3:07 2.85 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
8 17 Desdemona rea 0:41 0.62 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
9 18 Tu! Indietro! fuggi! 1:01 0.93 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
10 19 Ora e per sempre addio 1:00 0.92 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
11 20 Pace, signor 2:23 2.19 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
12 21 Era la notte, Cassio dormia 2:16 2.08 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
13 22 Oh! mostruosa colpa! 1:44 1.58 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
14 23 Si, pel ciel marmoreo giuro! 2:31 2.31 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 

ACT III

1 01 La vedetta del porto ha segnalato.mp3 1:22 1.26 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
2 02 Continua.mp3 1:18 1.19 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
3 03 Dio ti giocondi, o sposo.mp3 4:37 4.23 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
4 04 Esterrefatta fisso.mp3 5:12 4.77 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
5 05 Dio! mi potevi scagliar.mp3 3:06 2.84 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
6 06 Cassio e la!.mp3 0:47 0.72 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
7 07 Vieni; l'aula e deserta.mp3 0:43 0.66 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
8 08 ...e intanto, giacche non si stanca mai.mp3 4:05 3.74 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
9 09 Quest'e il segnale.mp3 2:28 2.26 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
10 10 Il Doge ed il Senato salutano.mp3 3:02 2.78 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
11 11 Messeri! Il Doge....mp3 1:46 1.61 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
12 12 A terra! ...si ...nel livido fango.mp3 2:02 1.86 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
13 13 Quell' innocente un fremito.mp3 4:00 3.66 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
14 14 Fuggite!.mp3 2:27 2.25 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 

ACT IV

1 15 Era piu calmo.mp3 3:46 3.45 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
2 16 Mia madre aveva una povera ancella.mp3 0:56 0.86 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
3 17 Piangea cantando nell'erma landa...mp3 6:49 6.25 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
4 18 Ave Maria, piena di grazia.mp3 4:52 4.45 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
5 19 Otello compare.mp3 2:50 2.59 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
6 20 Diceste questa sera le vostre preci.mp3 2:52 2.63 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
7 21 Aprite! Aprite!.mp3 3:17 3.01 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 
8 22 Niun mi tema.mp3 4:51 4.45 Mb 128 Kbps buy
 

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