Otello opened the 2009/2010 season in spectacular style. Verdi spent seven of his twilight years on the work, which represents the pinnacle of Italian tragic opera. It is based on the Shakespeare tragedy. Producer Mario Martone switched the setting from Cyprus to Venice, and oversaw the creation of a spider web of canals on stage filled with 50 tons of water. The visual representation of Otello's delusions and the sinister plot laid out by Iago is achieved through the manipulation of color and the appearance of the water surface. This beautiful, moving production is sure to become an audience favorite among the NNTT repertoire. The challenging role of Otello will be performed by Walter Fraccaro. Fraccaro's fine, muscular voice reverberated through the hall during his previous NNTT appearances, when he performed Calaf in Turnadot and Radames in Aida. Fraccaro will also be performing Manrico in the season-opener, Il Trovatore. The audience can also look for strong performances by Japanese artists including Matsui Hiroshi and Ohara Keiro in supporting roles.
End of the 15th century on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus under Venetian rule. During a storm, a crowd of people have gathered at the harbour anxiously watching as the governor of Cyprus, Otello, battles the Turks out at sea. They give a cry of joy when the storm helps sink the enemy. Otello returns and the victory festivities begin.
Iago, Otello's ensign, has a grudge against Otello as, instead of Iago, Otello had promoted Cassio to his deputy officer. Otello is a Moor, which adds to Iago's discontent. Iago plans a revenge which includes manoeuvring Roderigo and Cassio. Roderigo is in love with Otello's wife, Desdemona, and Cassio is a handsome but a simple-minded man. Iago plies Cassio with drink. Cassio quickly gets drunk and starts a brawl. Disturbed by the commotion, Otello arrives on the scene and strips Cassio of his rank.
Cassio is depressed about his demotion. Iago advises him to ask Desdemona to intercede with Otello on his behalf. Otello catches Iago distrustfully watching Cassio and Desdemona in conversation, which also arouses suspicion in Otello. Later, when Desdemona asks Otello to pardon Cassio, Otello's uneasiness increases. In the meantime, Iago wrenches Desdemona's handkerchief from his wife, Emilia, who is in Desdemona's service.
All the elements for Iago's plot are ready. Otello demands proof of Desdemona's infidelith and Iago claims he has heard Cassio mention his relationship with Desdemona in his sleep. He also tells him of the handkerchief Desdemona has supposedly given Cassio. Otello rages and vows vengeance, to be carried out in league with Iago.
Suspecting nothing, Desdemona pleads with Otello for Cassio's case again, irritating Otello even more. Iago engages Cassio in a conversation on which Otello is eavesdropping. Cassio has Desdemona's handkerchief in his hand, which for Otello, is a proof of Desdemona's infidelity. Together with Iago, Otello makes plans to murder Desdemona.
An Ambassador arrives from Venice. He brings orders from the Doge, recalling Otello back to Venice and promoting Cassio to the governor of Cyprus. Doubly shocked, Otello loses control of himself and in front of the whole crowd, hurls Desdemona to the ground.
Preparing to receive Otello in their bedroom, Desdemona is troubled by the sudden change in her husband's mood. She finishes her prayers and goes to sleep. Silently, Otello approaches. Desdemona is awakened by his kiss, but is effortlessly stranged to death.
Emilia ariives to finds a stunned Otello. She gasps when Otello admits to the crime and calls for the others to come. The machination is revealed and Iago flees. Otello realises his mistake, stabs himself in the heart with a dagger and, falling onto Desdemona, dies.