Review: Colón’s Otello brings surreal elegance to a world-class performance

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It was a world-class performance Wednesday night at Bogotá’s Teatro Colón, from the moment Iago throws a deck of cards in the air and the chorus of Verdi’s poignant Otello are illuminated on stage.

In fact, there was nothing more a captivated audience could ask for, given the impressive line up of international talent, stage production of German Willy Decker and musical direction by Briton Hilary Griffiths.

For two hours, as Verdi weaved a score based on this Shakespearean tragedy, Decker delivered a mesmerizing choreography, where light, darkness, colour and a large white cross were the emotional markers of Otello’s fall from pyrrhic victory to demonic rage, and his final breath on stage next to Desdemona.

Russian soprano Guinara Shafigullina debuted at the Colón as Desdemona. Her beautiful and powerful voice was matched by musical cohort, Serbian tenor Zoran Todorovich, as Otello. The duo were striking, connected both lyrically and dramatically. Griffith and the musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra delivered a romantic Verdi, flawless and sweeping, yet also intensely modern.

Otello’s shadowy anti-hero, Iago, is played by Nikola Mijailovic, a baritone of promising stature internationally, and who accompanies his wretched master through-out two hours on stage.

With only four performances of Otello  – June 23, 27, 29 and July 1 – don’t miss a magnificent opportunity to be part of a stylishly surreal performance that tributes Verdi with musical honesty. Willy Decker of Barcelona’s Liceu Theatre creates a psychological sanctuary for Otello’s downfall, without the trappings of exaggerated staging and period costumes. But it is the unison of chorus, soloists and production that will set this Otello aside from so many others performed around the world.

Teatro Colón. Calle 10 No.5-32.

Tickets available at tuboleta.com or the theatre’s box office.

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