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October 2013
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Sumptuous and Sexy: Lyric Opens with “Otello”

Ana Maria Martinez as Desdemona, photo by Dan Rest

Ana Maria Martinez as Desdemona, photo by Dan Rest

Saturday’s broadcast starts at 4:45 PM


(Ana María MartÍnez as Desdemona)

It’s opera season again, and the name Giuseppe Verdi is on everyone’s lips. His 200th birthday is upon us; and Lyric Opera of Chicago pays homage with one of the reigning Verdi tenors, Johan Botha, singing the title role of Otello. Ana María MartÍnez is the unlucky Desdemona, whose demise is collateral damage to the machinations of Falk Struckmann’s Iago. This is a powerful trio; one that will no doubt sharpen the sting of Shakespeare’s tragedy.

Otello is one of three Verdi operas based on plays by his literary idol, William Shakespeare. Verdi’s devotion to the bard is well-placed, as Otello is widely regarded to be one of the masterpieces of opera. Lyric’s production is a revival of one created by Sir Peter Hall twelve years ago starring Lyric’s creative consultant, Renée Fleming. Bertrand de Billy is the conductor.

Lyric broadcast producer Carolyn Paulin, and Lyric dramaturg Roger Pines have been collecting interviews all week long in preparation for Saturday’s opening night broadcast, which gets underway on Saturday at 4:45 PM.

It’s worth noting that Verdi is not the only musician devoted to Shakespeare. Tenor Johan Botha’s relationship to the poet goes back to his student days. Listen:


Iago (Falk Strukmann) poisons the mind of Otello (Johan Botha), photo by Dan Rest


Otello also marks the return of Chorus Master Michael Black, who was the company’s first choice for the job, but due to numerous complications was unable to accept until this season. His chorus will play a central role in this opera:


Having studied Shakespeare’s Othello intensely himself, director Ashley Dean, who is heading up the production by Sir Peter hall, finds endless fascination with its treatment in the hands of librettist Arrigo Boito and Giuseppe Verdi:


Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Otello,” photo by Dan Rest


  • Jeff3948

    Act I and II just ended and they were magnificent even with a change in cast of Iago between Act I and II !

  • Jeff3948

    Act III just ended and I’ve got chills of fear, goosebumps all over … and hatred for Iago!

  • Jeff3948

    Fine. Ana María MartÍnez brought tears to my eyes for Desdomona during the Willow, Ave Maria and the death scene. Bravo Bravissimo Martinez! What compassion and pity for Othello, Bravo Bravissimo Botha!