Otello(i) [Otello, ossia Il moro di Venezia (‘Othello, or The Moor of Venice’)]
- Richard Osborne
[Otello, ossia Il moro di Venezia (‘Othello, or The Moor of Venice’)]
Dramma in three acts by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Francesco Berio di Salsa after William Shakespeare ’s play Othello, or The Moor of Venice; Naples, Teatro del Fondo, 4 December 1816.
The libretto, by a Neapolitan literary dilettante, follows the broad outline of Shakespeare’s play; only in the opera’s third act (Acts 4.iii and 5 of the play) does the libretto follow Shakespeare at all closely.
Otello (tenor), captain of the Venetian fleet, is received with acclaim by the people after his victory over the Turks. The Doge (tenor) confers Venetian citizenship on him, but Otello is preoccupied with thoughts about Desdemona (soprano) whom he has been forced to marry secretly because of the opposition of her father, the influential senator Elmiro (bass). The celebrations are not shared either by Iago (tenor), Otello’s lieutenant and a man increasingly jealous of his political power, or the Doge’s son Rodrigo (tenor), who is in love with Desdemona himself. In a hurried private consultation, Rodrigo learns from Elmiro that Desdemona seems oppressed with some secret sorrow. Rodrigo fears that this is because a decision has been made to give Desdemona to the Moor in marriage, but Iago, who has been eavesdropping on the conversation, assures Rodrigo that Otello cannot thrive. Without telling Rodrigo what he intends to do with it, Iago produces a letter he has obtained in Desdemona’s own handwriting. Meanwhile, Desdemona is distraught that the letter has gone astray. She expresses her several fears in a ...