Thursday night it happened. It was the dress rehearsal for Otello by Giuseppe Verdi, based on the play by Shakespeare. We had prime seats in the “orchestra” section (main floor); hordes of vibrantly enthusiastic high school students watched from the balconies.
I’m just going to say it: opera is an acquired taste. I enjoy it, but I understand it is foreign territory for many.
But there is no better way to introduce, develop and nurture an operatic appetite than to see a live performance. The Opera House provides a grand and splendid setting. The three-story sets and lighting were superb. The acoustics exquisite. The storyline, sung in Italian, was easy to follow with English super titles. In short order, I was spell bound. Moved. Shaken.
There is no electronic amplification. The South African tenor and Bulgarian soprano had pipes. But the Italian baritone who played evil Iago amazed me. And when the entire cast was singing and all the instruments were playing, the sound went gloriously through my bones.
The conductor turned to the audience before the fourth and final act. The kids were not settled and the rustling noises continued. “This act begins very quietly with a very beautiful French horn solo,” the maestro explained. “This very beautiful music needs very beautiful silence. Thank you.”
It was a night to remember.
You can see a three minute segment here, a video filmed during the performance we saw.