'Otello' brings great drama and talent

    Deceit, jealousy, lies and treachery. Sounds like the way this year’s A.S. elections have been running, but it also aptly describes some of the characters in San Diego Opera’s rendition of Verdi’s beloved “”Otello.”” If that also sounds familiar, it’s because “”Otello”” is an opera rendition of William Shakespeare’s “”Othello.””

    Many of Shakespeare’s works have been reintroduced through films in the form of modern updates such as “”10 Things I Hate About You,”” Baz Luhrman’s “”Romeo+Juliet”” and even an “”Othello”” remake in “”O.”” Although opera is known as a stoic, classical art, “”Otello”” captures the intensity and betrayal, and translates it to new audiences just as well as the most modern of films. It is the art of the voice that anchors the powerful emotions and ideas as opposed to just visual elements.

    The story revolves around the victorious general Otello (Sergej Larin) who arrives home to his virtuous wife Desdemona (Marina Mescheriakova). Also awaiting his arrival is Iago (Alexandru Agache), the villainous partner of Otello who is secretly plotting revenge and Otello’s demise. Recently overlooked for a promotion, Iago plans his malicious doings through the one weakness that Otello is soft-hearted and susceptible to: love.

    Iago cons Otello into believing that Desdemona is secretly having an affair with another man, Cassio (Richard Troxell). Enraged at the notion that Desdemona would betray him, Otello loses all manners of self-control and civility; he starts to become the same evil that is Iago. While Otello falls into Iago’s treachery, he becomes incensed with rage and jealousy, sparking a spiral of events that leads to tragedy and, ultimately, death.

    Although “”Otello”” doesn’t have many of the memorable solos, or arias, that some of Verdi’s other works have, the performance and pacing is consistent and never manages to mire on a single character for too long. The leads capture their characters’ feelings and thoughts well. That is especially evident in Mescheriakova, who brings out the torn emotions of unadorned love and fear in Desdemona. Her voice cries out in frustration and remorse as she watches her lover turn into a monster.

    Shakespeare and opera together might sound as fun as cramming the night before a genetics midterm, but “”Otello”” manages to keep the flow and story rolling right along. The performance lasts 3 hours and 23 minutes, including three 20 minute intermissions, but the pace never slows, holding strong throughout the entire opera. “”Otello”” proves that the power of Shakespeare is evident in any form, whether it is on the screen or the stage.

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