Conductor – Valery Gergiev
Othello: Hovhannes Ayvazyan
Desdemona – Hibla Gerzmava
On February 5, 1887, the “grand old man,” as seventy-four-year-old Giuseppe Verdi was called in Italy, presented his new opera, “Othello,” on the stage of La Scala. This work has been awaited for as long as ever: for a decade and a half, the composer remained silent, resisting the onslaught of entrepreneurs and publishers. The best Italian librettist of the time, Arrigo Boito, conductor Franco Faccio and publisher Giulio Ricordi managed to convince him to take on the new opera. When it came to Shakespeare, whom he adored, Verdi began to give up little by little. “Othello” progressed slowly, but it was thanks to this slowness that a brilliant score was born. Never before had Verdi composed so calmly, freely and freely, for before he had always been bound by agreements and contracts.
Never before had he received a Shakespeare play in such a laconic, clear librett presentation: a clear motivation was found for each action of the main characters – Othello, Iago and Desdemona. And the accumulations – spiritual, personal, musical – of a long period of silence spilled out onto paper in a completely new way, unfamiliar to Verdi himself. This is probably why the opera is distinguished by the ideal unity of form, smoothly gliding, flowing from one episode to another, absolute intonational unity, melodic integrity enveloping the entire action, and the refined psychologism of the orchestral part, which revealed secret intentions not expressed in words. The evil precision of Iago’s vocal language, Othello’s martyrdom, the poetry radiating from Desdemona – Verdi manages all this with hitherto unprecedented perfection. Of course, both the composer himself, who parted with his brainchild with such difficulty, and the public, who gave an enthusiastic street greeting after the premiere, understood: “Othello” is the highest point of Verdi’s theater, a musical drama that came closest to both Verdi’s idolized Shakespeare and full revelation of his own powerful creative individuality.