Sunday, September 14, 2014

Compare & Contrast 27: ENO Otello

Reviews are coming in for the ENO Otello, and about all that is clear so far is that the direction left something to be desired. Apply your knowledge of the various reviewers to calibrate what they are saying, and bear in mind that this was a role debut for Stuart Skelton in one of the most difficult tenor roles.

Update: The first three reviews listed below are the least positive; some reviewers love the direction and production and are more impressed with the singing all around.
  • Keith McDonnell in What's On Stage. Down on director David Alden; feels Stuart Skelton has the voice for Otello but isn't quite there yet, Leah Crocetto warm-voiced and with "more mettle" than Desdemona usually has, Jonathan Summers snarling and barking through Iago. Likes Edward Gardner.
  • Andrew Clements in The Guardian. Feels Alden's approach leaves an emotional vacuum, terms Skelton's singing magnificent but feels it doesn't connect, finds Crocetto "tremulous," likes Summers dramatically, "superb" conducting.
  • Rupert Christensen in The Telegraph. "Impressed but curiously umoved." Skelton "vocalised the role superbly." "This Otello didn’t begin as the majestic triumphant commander and end as the pathetic human wreck; he was just a decent bloke misled." Likes Summers and Crocetto.
  • Mark Ronan, personal blog/web site. Happy with the production and singing, thinks there is plenty of emotional resonance.
  • Michael Church in The Independent. "Superb production," conducting at "white heat," Summers' Iago "a brilliant creation," Crocetto "lovely" (after some initial tremulousness), Skelton singing with "heroic burnish."
  • Mark Pullinger in Bachtrack. Production "of searing intensity," Skelton "anguished," "visceral," "thrilling," a little mixed but mostly positive on Crocetto, likes Summers, loves the conducting.
I'd go see this show, myself, since superbly sung Otellos are few and far between. And after seeing Skelton's magnificently sung and acted Peter Grimes in June, I expect his Otello will sooner or later be a great one.


davidzalden said...

Hi -- please check The Times, The Independent, The Standard and thousands of bloggers -- some of the Otello reviews are great. Being the director I should not comment, but I just have to say that Stuart Skelton, although new to this very difficult role, is already stunning and powerful!

Lisa Hirsch said...

Hi, there! Thanks for the comment, David: I have been using Google to locate reviews, and haven't checked today yet. I will make sure to look at those papers. (Thousands of bloggers? :) I was hoping Intermezzo would weigh in but she has disappeared from the face of the earth; Boulezian doesn't care for Verdi. Where's Runnicles may make it to this run.)

I am certainly not surprised about Stuart Skelton's Otello, after seeing his great Grimes here.

davidzalden said...

well it seems like thousands of bloggers -- there are certainly many opinions and reactions these days other than the mainstream critics, and this is all to the good!

Lisa Hirsch said...

Wish there were thousands! Agree about the value of diverse opinions.