Verdi’s Otello opens Pacific Opera Victoria’s new season

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Pacific Opera Victoria (POV) opens the 2015-16 season at the Royal Theatre in Victoria,October 15 through 25, with a company premiere of Verdi’s OTELLO.   Starring Lithuanian tenor Kristian Benedikt in the title role, this production also showcases American opera singer Todd Thomas as Iago and Canadian soprano Leslie Ann Bradley as Desdemona.

A faithful adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello, the opera is acclaimed as much for Arrigo Boito’s masterful libretto as for Giuseppe Verdi’s astonishing score.  Otello is an illustrious general with an adoring wife, until Iago sets out to destroy him and tear his marriage apart. With insinuation and lies, malevolence and false kindness, Iago plays on his general’s vulnerability.  The tragedy unfolds inexorably, and a love born in hope spirals into violence and desolation.

POV Artistic Director Timothy Vernon says of this production, “We are stepping beyond what looks like repertoire normally considered appropriate for a company of our size. A score of immense size and sophistication, Otello calls for three extraordinary leading performers, a huge choral component, and Verdi’s biggest orchestra.”

Otello is notorious for being one of the most difficult roles in opera. It demands a dramatic tenor with a heavy, heroic sound, strong top notes, great stamina, and impressive acting ability. It is demanding physically, vocally, and emotionally.  The role of Iago also requires a singer of great stamina and ability, and an accomplished actor that can lift the character beyond a single dimension.  POV presents two international singers who know these roles well.

Kristian Benedikt is one of the world’s reigning Otellos, having performed the role inMunich, St. Petersburg, Vilnius, Modena, Cagliari, Ekaterinburg, Basel, Stockholm, and Santiago, and with future engagements planned in Montreal, Beirut, and Savonlinna, Finland.  This production marks his staged opera debut in Canada.

Todd Thomas has performed the role of Iago throughout the U.S. and last season brought power and anguish to the role of Alberich in POV’s Das Rheingold.

Leslie Ann Bradley, who dazzled POV audiences as Micaëla in Carmen in 2012 and as Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro in 2014, returns to POV for her role debut as Desdemona.

A co-production with Opéra de Montréal, OTELLO is staged by Glynis Leyshon, and the Victoria Symphony is conducted by POV Artistic Director, Timothy Vernon.  Designer Peter Hartwell is creating a set for Victoria’s 1400-seat Royal Theatre that will expand for performances in Montreal’s 3000-seat Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier early in 2016.

Pacific Opera Victoria’s 2015-16 season celebrates theatre reborn as opera, and includes early 2016 productions of Rossini’s frothy The Barber of Seville and Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Subscription packages are available now.  For more information, contact Pacific Opera Victoria at 250-385-0222 or visit www.pov.bc.ca.

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