Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Otello at the Doge's Palace: a Venetian night at the opera.

The stage backdrop in the Doge's Palace courtyard with St. Mark's Church in the twilight.

Two days later and visions of Otello, the opera, are still running through my head.

On July 14, 2013 il cortile di Palazzo Ducale, the most beautiful courtyard one can imagine, played host to Giuseppe Verdi's Otello and gave a spectacular performance. It was 1960 the last time Othello sang in the Doge's Palace courtyard, and this event was well worth the wait. Last Sunday tenor Gregory Kunde, a fellow American, interpreted General Othello's power and jealousy beautifully, without sacrificing il Moro's underlying tenderness. Lucio Gallo wore the evil vest of Iago so well some wanted to hiss when he took his final bow but instead applauded the baritone for his bravura. Carmela Remigio's lovely soprano voice was sincere and sweet as Desdemona and gained my sympathy throughout the opera, especially when she met her tragic end. The director, light and visual designers illustrated Venice's historical majesty through symbolic set changes projected against the courtyard façades creating the most fantastical, yet real, stage I’ve ever seen. This, and much more, was beautifully conducted by Maestro Myung-Whun Chang. Teatro La Fenice deserves praise for bringing the city of Venice this production and a night to remember.

While exiting the 'theater' at the end of the evening I found myself standing next to an elderly man leaning on his cane. He wore a wise smile and his eyes glistened as he watched the courtyard empty out. He told me he had seen Otello, forty some years ago, the last time it was performed in the courtyard. I asked what he thought. Was this performance as good as the last? He raised his free hand toward the empty stage and sighed, “It was bellissima then, but how can you compete with what we saw tonight.”

I was careful and discreet while snapping these photos with my smartphone and I didn’t use the flash. There were so many more I could have taken, but I didn't want to disturb those around me, and I wanted to fully enjoy the opera first hand. I understand one of the performances may eventually be available on DVD or for public television. You might want to see it! In the meantime here's a taste of what I saw:

Il Gonfalone di San Marco

Otello giving Desdemona the handkerchief

Iago and Otello

San Marco: the winged lion

Fantastical stage design

The applause
Leaving the 'theater' behind.


  1. An outdoor opera in the city it is set! Wonderful memories you shared!

    1. It's my pleasure to share such wonderful memories, Rosaria. Especially when your comments are filled with so much enthusiasm, too. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Ciao!

  2. Oh, that must have been wonderful to experience! I envy you, Marie (and thank you for these discreetly snapped pics) --

    1. Alexa, it was an experience I will cherish and remember for years to come. Thank you for leaving a comment, and I'm glad you enjoyed the photos, too.