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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could this be this the best overall stereo Otello?
Otello has always been among my favorite operas. The first time I heard it was as a boy listening to my parent's Toscanini recording. While I am aware that there are those who regard this as a reference, I will withhold comment since I have not heard it for decades. However, in addition to this DVD, I have the Von Karajan film on DVD, and on CD, the first recordings of...
Published on May 19, 2002 by R. J. Claster

versus
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but...
As I accumulate a library of Operatic and Ballet performances I am especially attuned to the technical aspects of the recording, such as audio mix, lighting etc. This performance has a less than perfect audio mix. The orchestra is well represented but the singers sound distant. Microphone placement maybe? It is one of the reasons many live performances that are recorded...
Published on September 4, 2008 by Thomas R. Bodden


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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could this be this the best overall stereo Otello?, May 19, 2002
By 
R. J. Claster "rjclaster" (Van Nuys, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Verdi - Otello / Solti, Domingo, Te Kanawa, Royal Opera Covent Garden (DVD)
Otello has always been among my favorite operas. The first time I heard it was as a boy listening to my parent's Toscanini recording. While I am aware that there are those who regard this as a reference, I will withhold comment since I have not heard it for decades. However, in addition to this DVD, I have the Von Karajan film on DVD, and on CD, the first recordings of Domingo and Vickers, both on RCA, and Von Karajan's 1960s Decca recording with Del Monaco and Tebaldi. What for me separates this recording from the others is that it possesses a truly gripping sense of theatricality from all the principals involved. In contrast to the other recordings I have mentioned, this is a live rather than a studio production, and although I would not argue this automatically makes it better (assuming, of course, a comparable level of quality in vocal and instrumental execution), there exists the potential to reach a more transcendent level of intensity and involvement over what is generally achieved in a studio setting, and that potential, I feel, has been abundantly realized here.
More specifically, I feel that both Domingo and Te Kanawa sing beautifully while, at the same time, very effectively convey the pathos and suffering of their characters, and, I would add, that for Domingo, this is what distinguishes his performance here from his RCA recording (for a more stentorian approach, try Del Monaco with Von Karajan).
As for Leiferkus as Iago, I would disagree with those who regard his portrayal as undercharacterized. Perhaps his voice is a little bit on the light and dry side, and he avoids obvious theatrics. He does, however, convey Iago's evil and malice, just in a more subtle and restrained manner, all the more chilling and believable as a result, for Iago is supposed to be an insidious villain, not an obvious one.
Finally, Solti's conducting conveys true dramatic thrust and burning intensity. Only Von Karajan, I feel, in his Decca recording comes close.
If you want to see and hear how effective Otello can be in a superior live setting without paying the elevated ticket prices for actually being there, do get this one!
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT, September 23, 1999
By A Customer
"...The Willow Song and Ave Maria provided one of those episodes of transcendental rapture which operagoers remember all their lives, singer, conductor, players and audience caught together in an enchanted spell..." Andrew Porter's review of Kiri Te Kanawa's brilliant performance as Otello's wife.
A perfect production - Placido Domingo demonstrates why he is the best tenor in the world, with a completely commanding performance - catching the balance of Otello's character perfectly.
Russian Sergei Lefeirkus is a vocally good Iago, but lacks a bit of the real wickedness of a brilliant Iago...Cassio is good and the rest of the cast, Emilia (though wobbly at times) included, are wonderful. Kiri Te Kanawa is a stand out performer, a magical Desdemona, with mystery & beauty - acting out the desperation of an unhappy wife to perfection. Domingo and Te Kanawa have real chemistry, better than any operatic 'couple' performing on the world's stages, and the love scene is extremely passionate and vocally beautiful. The final scene moved me to tears...Solti's orchestration is great, though perhaps a little loud sometimes?!
Anything negative aside, it's as perfect an Otello as you will ever find. Buy it!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the greatest Otello on DVD, October 7, 2002
By 
Mark (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Verdi - Otello / Solti, Domingo, Te Kanawa, Royal Opera Covent Garden (DVD)
This is, and by far, the best Otello available on DVD. It is far superior to Karajan's with Vickers in the tiltle role and mainly technically where the movie's picture rarely follows the sound.
Also, we have here a much better Iago (seguei Leiferkus) who is far superior to Glossop's Ugly Iago. Glossop is vulgar in both singing and acting. Leiferkus is far from being great. He overacts very often ("L'o vidi in man do Cassio" is desastrous)but is over all acceptable.
However, the main reason for owning this version is Domingo's Otello. Arguably, he is the Best. He has a weaker voice than Del Monaco (that is not necessarily bad) and he has a smaller voice than Vickers but he surpasses them both in the understanding of the role and in showing vocally Otello's power, rage and jealousy. And, very objectively he has a much more beautiful voice than both his "rivals".
Also remember that this is a DVD and we have to confess that No one acts as good as Domingo...
Solti's conducting is the other amazing feature and unlike Karajan there are no cut in the score.
Te Kanawa's Desdemona makes finally the perfect cake for this version...
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars extra!, January 15, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Verdi - Otello / Solti, Domingo, Te Kanawa, Royal Opera Covent Garden (DVD)
This "Otello" is a top performance with an incredible cast, recroded at the ROyal Opera Covent Garden with minimum couhing from the audiance and no applause cutting off the music(as usual in this opera house).

The cast is amazing.
Kiri Te Kanawa, even though pretty cold as an actress, sung beatifully and emotionally.
Leiferkus was much criticised. A lot of reviewers called him a WEAK IAGO. Well, this is just not true. Yes, his voice is not very dark (yes he's not Gobbi) but Iago just isn't supposed to have this kind of dark voice. Verdi's writings have shown that he intended the Moor to be a very dark tenor (say a bariton with high thrilling notes) whereas his Iago, the man pushing him to his outrage should have a stronger character but not a darker voice. Toscanini's Otello (with Vinay in the title role) was always considered as THE reference, THE OTELLO recording. Well, what about IAGO in toscanini's recording? Giuseppe Valdengo (as IAGO) has a light voice with an extraordinary character and this is the Iago that Verdi most likely wanted. Now, going back to Leiferkus, his Iago in both singing and villain acting were wonderful.
Domingo: The Otello! He certainly hasn't the power of Del Monaco or even the mixed power/passion of vickers but he is, no doubt one of the greatest Otello's. This DVD shows him in his greatness after years of intensive studies. After going deeply to the barytonal ugly tenor role in Zeffirelli's film, he's back as a great Otello tenor with amazing acting. This is all we ask for this role.
Solti's conducting is very exciting as well.
An overall GREAT PERFORMANCE....Highly Recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Otello to treasure!, November 18, 2001
By 
David (North Carolina, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi - Otello / Solti, Domingo, Te Kanawa, Royal Opera Covent Garden (DVD)
Of all the productions I have seen of this work, this is the one I keep coming back to. Domingo and Kanawa really get into their roles as Otello and Desdemona. Their singing and acting are first rate and become even more appreciated with repeated viewings. Sergei Leiferkus' Iago is not quite up to the elevated heights of his two victims, but he is anything but a weak link. I prefer the less obvious suggestions of evil in his singing and in his acting, as that adds to the verisimilude of the opera as a whole--afterall, if Iago's evil designs were transparent he would not succeed in destroying Otello. The singing is first-rate by all members of the cast, the Royal Opera House Orchestra plays beautifully under Georg Solti, making for an extraordinary production of Verdi's penultimate opera. The entire final act is as good as opera gets--it is a revelation whose many nuances must be heard as well as seen. This Covent Garden production of Otello will be the bench mark for all future Otellos on DVD for many years to come. The sound and the picture are both of the highest standards. This production will surely please both lovers of opera and those new to the genre.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a clear winner, March 27, 2003
By 
Rosomax (Boulder, CO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Verdi - Otello / Solti, Domingo, Te Kanawa, Royal Opera Covent Garden (DVD)
Placido Domingo is rightly considered a reigning Otello of the late 20-th century. He has the voice, the looks, and the acting ability to bring the tormented warrior to life.
I have to recommend this full opera house version over the celebrated film version. The main reason for it is that the latter has several frustrating cuts, including the Willow song and Otello/Iago duet "Si per ciel".
The supporting cast is very impressive. Te Kanawa looks and sings an ideal Desdemona, even if she's not a mover and shaker in this role as Tebaldi in the past or Fleming currently. Speaking of Fleming, when will we finally see or hear the MET "Otello" with her, Domingo, and Morris, conducted by James Levine? It was broadcasted over the PBS, so I can't see why it can't be made commercially available.
The Russian baritone Sergei Leiferkus is an unusual Iago. His voice is light and "tenorial" so to speak. Thus, he sounds somewhat like Otello's darker alter ego, which is an interesting twist that makes a story more believable.
Solti, of course, provides a marvelous, brilliant sound, and the chorus work is very good. The picture quality is almost perfect.
Don't hesitate; this is an "Otello" to treasure.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Drama!!, July 27, 2003
By 
This is one of the all-time desert island opera films. It catches some of the best recent singers in top form, and in an ingenious production. Obviously, people knew this performance was going to be something special, since you can see royalty in the boxes of the Covent Garden Opera House.
Placido Domingo has ruled Otello for about thirty years, and you couldn't ask for a better performance than he delivers here. He sings with the maturity only a man of his age could provide, but his voice sounds years younger than it really was. His acting and singing are positively Shakespearean.
Desdemona is not nearly so deep a role but it is certainly a beautiful one, and Kiri Te Kanawa gives us some ravishing tones. She and Domingo obviously work well together and they make a wonderful stage couple here.
Sergei Leiferkus is a controversial Iago here as elsewhere, but I've never had the slightest problem with him for these reasons: he's fabulously talented (listen to the perfectly executed runs in the drinking song), he makes his somewhat gritty voice sound appropriately villainous, and his acting is about ten times more nuanced than almost all other opera singers.
Sir Georg Solti leads a typically explosive and dramatic orchestral performance; his dynamism is perfectly suited to this opera, and he shapes the quiet and beautiful phrases well too.
All this takes place in the context of a very well-thought-out stage production, which is basically realistic but full of interesting touches which keep it from being at all mundane.
Performances of this caliber are extremely rare, and we are lucky to have this committed to video (and DVD: I hope to replace my VHS soon). If you love opera, do yourself a treat and get this movie!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Otello Supreme, July 12, 2004
By 
Dominic (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Verdi - Otello / Solti, Domingo, Te Kanawa, Royal Opera Covent Garden (DVD)
There are so many wonderful facets to this version of Verdi's Otello, and once you see it there will be no doubt in your mind that it's easily the best production out.

First, the cast. Placido Domingo was THE Otello of the last thirty years or so, and he shows it here. He has the age and experience to be Otello, but his voice seems to not have gotten the memo---his high notes ring with clarity, and his low range is just as secure. Kiri Te Kanawa as Desdemona isn't the monumental Verdi role that you'll see in some of his other operas, but she holds her own and provides some intense moments with Domingo and complements him in their duets. Sergei Leiferkus (as you can see from the other reviews) is somewhat of an offbeat Iago, but by no means inferior to any of the other recordings on DVD. He has somewhat lyric qualities to his baritone, which most won't want to see in Iago, but his voice is at the same time clear, powerful, strong, and convincing as the villain. All three act superbly, especially Leiferkus, who although at first glance most wouldn't pick as their Iago of choice, has become mine after watching this production only twice. They blend well on stage, know when to recede and let the more important character shine, and carry the opera on their backs---all things difficult to find on the operatic stage.

Even the less often seen characters in this opera shine; namely Georg Solti, the ROH Orchestra, the production crew, and the transfering job. Solti generally keeps in stride and status quo with his tempi, and lets the principles guide him when he knows they are "feeling it." He lets himself be known, but doesn't force the issue. The sets are generally traditional, and the camera shots are never eerily unneccessary (i.e., some Bayreuthe productions). The best part is the tranfer from video to DVD, though---this could easily be the best musical recording of the opera as well if you wanted to simply close your eyes.

Solti, Domingo, Te Kanawa, Leiferkus, Covent Garden. Amazing acting, wonderful staging, wonderful sound and a quiet audience. What more could you ask for?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but..., September 4, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Verdi - Otello / Solti, Domingo, Te Kanawa, Royal Opera Covent Garden (DVD)
As I accumulate a library of Operatic and Ballet performances I am especially attuned to the technical aspects of the recording, such as audio mix, lighting etc. This performance has a less than perfect audio mix. The orchestra is well represented but the singers sound distant. Microphone placement maybe? It is one of the reasons many live performances that are recorded do not sound as good as the film version. The people who put a film together seem to be very good at getting these things right. I have to agree with the reviewer who praised Kiri and panned Placido. His acting is very good but this opera seemed to test his range. But this too may have been related to the mike placement. The lighting was also minimal in many scenes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get this for Te Kanawa and Solti, February 8, 2002
By 
Jim Player (Rochester, NY, USA) - See all my reviews
This live Covent Garden performance is a stellar event...Domingo, the most famous modern Otello, the sublime Te Kanawa, the evil Leiferkus and the brilliant fiery Solti all together for a memorable Gala evening of Great Verdi.
In the title role, Domingo sings and acts well, but his Otello is so overly documented (two commercial recordings,the Maazel film and soundtrack, the famous Scala performance and pirate recordings from 1976...did I miss any?), that there really aren't any surprises. He's pretty much at his best here. Too bad there isn't a live Vickers or MacCracken performance for some balance...
Te Kanawa looks and sings sublimely, and this is the true reason to get this tape.Though she has recorded extensively, there isn't a whole lot of her visually, and to catch her live in one of her best roles is a real treat.
Leiferkus, much criticized for being too light weight may be more ideal for the part than he's given credit for. Much of the part is lyrical, with a high tessitura, meza voce in Era la notté, or a light and agile pizzacato in Questa é una ragna. Far too often we're hearing bassos doing baritone roles, and it's refreshing to hear a less heavy or power-house interpretation.
The ever controversial Solti, assistant to Toscanini at Salzburg in the late 30's, conducts with the vigor of a man half his age. It's good to have a document of him conducting a live opera.
Brian Large, to me vastly over-rated, directs with much attention to detail...so much that often the larger picture gets lost. Do we REALLY need an extensive close-up of Domingo's right eye and nostril as Desdemona lays dying? THis would be a case in point for multi-angles in DVD.
All in all, a really good performance of some of the finer interpreters of Otello today. And don't go by a bored Diana's obligatory applause, this is truly a grand event!
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Verdi - Otello / Solti, Domingo, Te Kanawa, Royal Opera Covent Garden
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