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Randall Jakobosh

Verdi Otello

From 17 December TO 18 March 2023
Opernhaus - Leipzig

Verdi : Otello

  • Conductor
    Christoph Gedschold
  • Director
    Monique Wagemakers
  • Performers
    Otello: Xavier Moreno
    Desdemona: Iulia Maria Dan
    Desdemona: Solen Mainguené
    Iago: Vladislav Sulimsky
    Cassio: Matthias Stier
    Cassio: Sven Hjörleifsson
    Lodovico: Randall Jakobsch
  • Venue Info
  • Seating Plan
  • Synopsis

Opernhaus - Leipzig Location Augustusplatz 12 - 04109 Leipzig Allemagne

Nikolaus Adam Strungk, like a number of 17th century musicians, was a man of many talents, being not only a composer, but also a violinist and organist. Yet he has gone down in history as the man who, in 1693, founded the first Leipzig Opera. He was the first director of the opera house where a number of his own compositions were performed. This was also the case for his successor, the prolific Georg Philip Telemann who, however, failed to save the institution from closing in 1720.


Leipzig then presented visiting Italian troupes until the fashion for German opera reached such a peak that the city opened a new theater in 1766. The Städtisches Theater was officially inaugurated in 1817 and, under different directors, the most famous being E.T.A. Hoffmann, presented repertoire ranging from Mozart to Weber, including the German premiere of Oberon, soon after the world premiere at Covent Garden.


In 1840, the Gewandhaus Orchestra, at the time under Mendelssohn, was named official orchestra to the Leipzig Opera and has remained so to this day. In 1850, Schumann conducted the first performances of his opera, GENOVEVA. In 1867 a new opera house was built on Augustusplatz, directly opposite the site of the future " New Gewandhaus ". A staunch defender of German operatic art, the Leipzig Opera soon took up the cause of Richard Wagner's music, putting on one of the first full performances of the RING, using stage sets and costumes from the Bayreuth Festival.


Before long they set forth to reveal the prodigious Ring cycle beyond German borders : these productions met with enthusiastic acclaim at Covent Garden, La Fenice and La Monnaie. Wagnerian culture was defended later by Arthur Nikisch and his young assistant, Gustav Mahler, but the Leipzig Opera also remained free to innovate and became one of the temples of modern music in the first half of the 20th century with programmes featuring a number of world premieres including the jazzy tones of Krenek's JONNY STRIKES UP (1927) and the more strident tones of Kurt Weill for Bertolt Brecht's RISE AND FALL OF THE CITY OF MAHAGONNY (1930). The opera was destroyed during the Second World War and not rebuilt until 1960. The style is not quite identical but has attempted to respect the classical lines of the old theater.


The seating plan is given as an indication and has no contractual value.
The division of categories may differ depending on shows and dates.




Composed by renowned Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, this is a four-act opera that has always been well-received by audiences. Verdi had retired after the roaring success of his work Aida, and came out of retirement to compose this opera. It was first performed in 1887 at La Scala in Milan.


Based on Shakespeare's play Othello, it is a tragic story of love that meets an unfortunate and untimely end at the hands of betrayal and manipulation. It highlights effects of jealousy- both personal and political- on the lives of the characters. String, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments are used to portray different emotions. The love duets towards the beginning of the opera have been known to be particularly touching.


The story is set in Cyprus in the late 15th Century and revolves around the relationship between the General Otello and his wife Desdemona. The scheming Iago is the villain in the story and it is due to his machinations that the tragedy is brought about. The tale deals with the important issues of politics, love and treachery- all relevant topics even today.

Act 1

It starts with a storm in the sea as the Cypriots anxiously await the return of their general from battle. The storm and the tension are beautifully portrayed with percussion and brass instruments. The ship lands safely and Otello conveys the news of their victory. This establishes his position of authority. Iago's jealous hatred for him is revealed. The General's loving relationship with Desdemona is highlighted with melodious love duets.

In Act 2

Iago carries out his scheme of ruining the General. Iago plants the seed of doubt in the General's mind by implying that Desdemona is unfaithful to him. Previously dishonoured Captain, Cassio is cleverly framed as Desdemona's lover. Desdemona petitions for Cassio to be reinstated to his title and this is portrayed as a sign of her devotion to Cassio. The General is consumed with fury when Iago tells him that he had seen Desdemona's handkerchief in Cassio's apartment.

Act 3

It sees heightened action as Iago presents the stolen handkerchief as false proof. Blinded by jealousy, the General takes Iago's statements at their face value. He confronts Desdemona and is convinced of her guilt though she denies it. Anger and rage takes precedence over love.

Act 4

Desdemona's beautiful prayer shows acceptance of her fate and heralds the tragic culmination of events. The General, in his anger, takes a step that he will soon regret. Iago's treachery is eventually revealed. A horrified Othello has a crushing moment of realisation, but it is already too late for the lovers. Melancholy notes underline the tragedy of the tale and brings the opera to a close.

Verdi's version of this famous Shakespearean play has been critically acclaimed and is definitely worth watching.


Otello, The General: Tenor
Desdemona, his wife: Soprano
Iago, his subordinate: Baritone
Cassio, dishonoured Captain: Tenor
Emilia, Iago's wife and Desdemona's maid: Mezzo Soprano


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