An audio recording of the composer’s opera is conducted
by Antonio Pappano and is first-class
Kaufmann took on the role of Otello for the first time in 2017,
it was the event of the operatic year. The production at the
Royal Opera House in London was filmed live, but the DVD is
hampered by an ugly staging nobody is likely to want to see
Now here is an audio recording, still with Antonio
Pappano as conductor, but recorded in Rome with the Orchestra
dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and a different
supporting cast. On almost all counts, it presents Kaufmann’s
Otello in a better setting.
First, the absence of the
visuals is pure gain. Second, although Kaufmann was widely
criticised for a lack of power in his first try at the role in
the theatre, that is largely masked by the conditions of an
audio recording, where his experience of the role also means he
is more willing to take risks.
Kaufmann will never be a
vocal powerhouse of an Otello, like Jon Vickers or Vladimir
Atlantov. Playing to his strengths, he uses his burnished tone
to portray Otello as a loving, romantic, tragic hero. What he
loses in Italian fire he gains in exemplary musicianship, most
notably in his wonderfully inward singing of Otello’s great
solo, “Dio mi potevi scagliar”, the heart of this performance.
Pappano is again a strong, assertive conductor. The young
Federica Lombardi, clear and Italianate in sound, is well cast
as Desdemona and Carlos Alvarez is a sturdy, if not especially
imaginative, Iago. The orchestra, heard under the spotlight of a
vivid recording, comes across admirably with much fine detail.
This may not be as individual an Otello as some of its
predecessors on disc, but it has a first-class balance of