Euronews, 29/06/2017
Jonas Kaufmann is Otello in Covent Garden
For the first time in thirty years London’s Covent Garden opera house is putting on Verdi’s Otello.

The masterpiece, based on the Shakespearean tragedy Othello, tells the story of a black general in the Venetian army who marries Desdemona, the beautiful white daughter of a Venetian Senator. Otello becomes consumed by jealousy after one of his lieutenants Iago cunningly convinces him that Desdemona is sleeping with another man.

“Otello is the great warrior, a man of tremendous success and the piece is about his trajectory starting here and being brought down by the smallest thing at first, a little doubt about his wife. Iago says ‘well he saw her with Cassio, hummm very strange’… And from that little germ we see the catastrophe unfolding”, Musical Director Antonio Pappano told Euronews.

The destructive nature of sexual jealousy in Shakespeare’s play Othello has long been recognised as ideal for the emotional drama of opera. In fact Irish playwright Georg Bernard Shaw quipped: “The truth is that, rather than Otello being an Italian opera written in the style of Shakespeare, it is Othello that is a drama by Shakespeare in the style of Italian opera.”

It’s the first time that Jonas Kaufmann has taken on the title role, deemed to be at high risk for a tenor: “This part is difficult in so many ways. It is probably the second act which is the most demanding, only because it’s there where the anger builds up. You really need to calm down and you really need to measure how much of this jealousy is actually causing trouble and how much is still under control.”

“Well it is an Everest” added Pappano. “You need tremendous energy to conduct this music you must never get lazy or just luxuriate in it, it’s not a piece for that, it’s strict drama that must lead somewhere.”
Euronews, 29/06/2017
Jonas Kaufmann and Antonio Pappano: a close artistic relationship
If Jonas Kaufmann has accepted the role of Otello, it’s not surprising that Antonio Pappano is holding the baton. That’s because the tenor and the conductor have regularly been working together for 15 years.

Antonio Pappano, ROH Musical Director, Conductor:

“Certainly the role of Otello, is a career defining role, and one must not take it on too early in one’s career, nor take it on too lightly because although it is manageable when you look at it on the page and you say: oh yes this is singable. But when you put all the emotion and all the paranoia that goes along with the jealousy and the suspicion , the part all of a sudden becomes ten times more difficult, because it’s like carrying a big weight on your shoulders.”

Jonas Kaufmann, Tenor:

“It’s always a crucial decision where you do it for the first time, with whom you do it for the first time. I mean you have to do it with people that you trust, that they will help you if you need, and that let’s say come from the same side of interpreting music and Tony Pappano certainly is that type.

Basically you can try and make music starting from the structure of it and through the logic of the music come to a result. Or you can start with emotions and use the music as a vehicle of expressing emotions and this is the side I’m coming from and so is Tony.”

Antonio Pappano:

“For the conductor, you have to be very sensitive to the singers’ needs, to the pacing that they need to get through, but you also must guide them and work with them and coax them into giving off their most imaginative performances because this material needs imagination, and real interaction between the characters”

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