Verdi's masterpiece Otello will kick off Wakasugi Hiroshi's final season as Artistic Director (Opera). Wielding the baton will be the gifted young conductor Riccardo Frizza. Frizza demonstrated his talents in the NNTT productions of Aida (10th Anniversary Special Performance) and Macbeth. Directing will be Mario Martone, who has earned quite a reputation for his work in film and stage productions in Europe. Anticipation is high as we look forward to Martone's conception of Otello at the NNTT. The cast is loaded with singers who have performed to acclaim at the NNTT.
Late 15th century on the island of Cyprus, which is under the control of the Republic of Venice. As a storm rages, the people anxiously await the return of the Venetian fleet. They find reassurance in the words of the Moorish general Otello (T). Otello is detested by his ensign Jago (Br). Jago plies the captain Cassio (T) with wine until the latter starts a drunken brawl. An angry Otello then relieves Cassio of duty. The act ends with Otello and wife Desdemona (S) singing a tender duet expressing their love for one another.
Jago puts on a show of consoling the grief-stricken Cassio, but reveals his true treachery in an aria ("I believe in a cruel God"). In hopes of destroying the relationship between Otello and Desdemona, Jago begins filling Otello's ears with lies. Desdemona loses her handkerchief, which is found by her maid Emilia (Ms), also Jago's wife; Jago takes it from her. After Otello sends Desdemona away, he and Jago sing a duet swearing revenge.
In the castle. Otello asks his wife the whereabouts of her handkerchief, pressing her with questions. Jago brings Cassio to the castle and starts him boasting of his romantic exploits as Otello listens, hidden from view. Otello draws the disturbing conclusion that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. The fleet arrives and the emissary Lodovico (B) comes to Otello with a letter. He learns he has been ordered back to Venice, and that his replacement as governor will be Cassio. The enraged Otello throws Desdemona to the ground as the others look on in shock.
Desdemona's chamber. Desdemona sings her plaintive aria, the "Willow Song". After dismissing Emilia, she begins to pray to the Virgin Mary. She falls asleep, then awakens to find Otello in the room. He draws slowly closer to Desdemona until finally strangling her. Emilia arrives on the scene and, finding Desdemona near death, calls for help. Jago's treachery is brought to light through the testimony of Cassio and Lodovico. Otello stabs himself with a dagger, then crawls over to where his wife lies slain before his life slips away.