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Verdi: Otello (Metropolitan Opera)

4.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Jon Vickers one of the great Othellos of the 20th century brings his remarkable vocal power and dramatic intensity to the role, with Renata Scotto as Desdemona at the height of her powers and Cornell MacNeil's manacing Iago in one of the baritone's greatest roles. James Levine conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus in one of the most thrilling performances of the decade.
Taken from the September 25, 1978 live performance.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jon Vickers, Renata Scotto, Cornell MacNeil
  • Directors: Franco Zeffirelli, James Levine
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Classical
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2011
  • Run Time: 144 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00579EKXC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,632 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alan Montgomery on August 15, 2011
Format: DVD
I have never forgotten seeing this on a MET telecast and being blown away. For those who overuse the word "awesome", this redefines that word. It is incredible. Jon Vickers is never a singer who is acting. He IS Otello. Every utterance, in addition to being well sung, has an intensity that illuminates every phrase. You don't need the subtitles. When he sings, "Non ora!" (Not now!) it is a warning Desdemona doesn't heed but obviously should. In the scene, after he calls her "Otello's whore" he drives her from the stage with an elemental fury that takes your breath away. Wow!

Renata Scotto was also a great actress, and here she is in pristine vocal condition. This is the kind of performance for her that only adds to her glory. Cornell MacNeil was never my favorite baritone, but here he grabs every nuance. The duet "Si pel ciel" is monumentally good.

There are minor moments in act one when the chorus is not squarely with Mr. Levine. This is brief, and it is easy to understand how it happens. Stage movement is a distraction. Forget about it! The rest of the cast is filled with the kind of great singers that only the MET can put forth.

Buy it before it fades away.
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Format: DVD
I bought this from the MET opera shop a few months ago. It is a magnificent performance. And Jon Vickers is a force of nature. He literally takes your breath away. Scotto is great as Desdemona and Cornell MacNeil's dark Iago completes a great trio. James Levine, as is to be expected, conducts a taught performance. If you have not seen Vickers as Otello you should do yourself a favor. This, along with his Peter Grimes, is a performance for the history books.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This legendary production dates from September 25, 1978 and I received and watched this DVD exactly 31 years later. As is the case with the Met Cav/Pag, the video and audio have been restored. I am in full agreement with the reviews by Messrs. Morgan and Rossi. This is a shattering performance that will leave you breathless. Jon Vickers' Otello is superbly sung and acted and Cornell MacNeil's Iago just oozes malevolence. Given the right role in the right production, Renata Scotto would rise to the ranks of the great singing actresses. This is one of those nights -- she is sublime as Desdemona.

I hope The Met will continue to release their early telecasts on DVD -- especially Miss Scotto's Trittico. By itself, her acting at the end of Suor Angelica would more than justify the price of the disc.
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Many of us have been waiting for this 1978 performance from the Metropolitan Opera to be commercially published. It stars Jon Vickers, Renata Scotto, and Cornell MacNeil, at the height of their artistic powers.

Vickers' Otello is overwhelming in its intensity, even ferocity. Every gesture is choreographed to maximum effect; this video may be the most striking example of his acting ability. One can easily see the influence of both Wieland Wagner and Maria Callas on his unique plastique. Vocally, even though he was over fifty years old, the tenor surmounts every difficulty in the score. His studio film of 1973-74 of the same opera is simply not to be compared to this "live" performance.

Scotto is also at her finest in this performance. Most Desdemonas are pallid compared to this intense conception of the role. In the "Ave Maria," she reaches the level of the sublime. This was, incidentally, her only performances in the theatre opposite Vickers.

MacNeil, while not quite in the same exalted league as the tenor and soprano, is a frightening Iago, with his thundering voice. None of these three singers had a "beautiful" voice. In fact, when the young James Morris enters as Lodovico, one is struck by the sheer beauty of his sound. Instead, the three leads give you a transcendent performance, one that will haunt you for a lifetime.

James Levine conducts with great energy, but the staging was originally done by Franco Zeffirelli. It looks no different than what one sees in the provincial houses in America, excepting the fact that the sets and costumes probably cost a great deal of money. As Zeffirelli told Vickers' biographer, Jeannie Williams, in 1999, "I don't consider it my best production at the Met."
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Format: DVD
I totally agree with Brian Morgan's review and insights (above). I, too, have been waiting for this perfomance to be released....I hope that there are many more from the early MET telecasts!!! I was very lucky to get this "Otello" on my Met Subscription when I lived in New York. It always left a fantastic impression with me all these years. The three leads deliver their emotions right on target..Vickers with his sad suffering...Scotto with her undying (well, actually dying)love and MacNeil with his ferocious cruelty.
This might not be Zeffirelli's best production at the Met but it more than serves its purpose...it is direct, atmospheric and beautiful. No cheap sets and costumes here. It is always refreshing to see a production as the composer envisioned it...no attempts at updating the story to some weird and/or modern interpretation. Zeffirelli always gave you your money's worth.
I just received this DVD along with the "Cav and Pag" Met DVD but have not watched it yet. As soon as I do, I'll write reviews of those two performanes.
I'm glad I purchased this "Otello". Along with the 1995 Domingo Met Performace DVD, I now have the two greatest interpreters of the role in my life time. Thanks to the Met for releasing this DVD.
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