What leads Otello to believe himself betrayed by his wife Desdemona who has never stopped loving him? In this new production by David Alden, Teatro Real offers a live stream of William Shakespeare’s masterfully portrayal of the devastating power of insecurity. Conducted by Renato Palumbo, the very fine cast includes Gregory Kunde and Ermonela Jaho.
William Shakespeare gave the Venetian Moor ethnic origins which were unusual for his surroundings and these became a powerful Achilles heel. However, the Otello as conceived by stage director David Alden (and in Arrigo Boito’s libretto for Verdi), sets the conflict less on the skin colour of the Moor and more in the intricate psychological labyrinths within which he becomes trapped.
Otello is overwhelmed by jealousy. He cannot avoid the downfall of his own ideals, and he is smothered by an obsession to find proof of his wife’s infidelity which, in actual fact, only exists in his mind. The bloodthirsty general devours the man of peace, and thus destroys both himself and everything around him. In his officer Iago, we have one of the most venomous villains ever conceived. With opportunistic authority, he encourages the wild imagination of his commander. By losing all sense of dignity, self-control and judgement, Otello confronts us with one of the most unspeakable fears of mankind: to not feel worthy of that which one most loves.