The first season of Vancouver’s Opera Festival opened with Otello, one of the most popular and well-loved operas performed today.
Iago is one of the most conniving and powerful villains on stage. He’s a favourite for many and an intense role for any to take on. Gregory Dahl came up a little short in voice, but his performance left nothing to be desired. He stalked around the stage, creating a presence that encompassed all of Iago’s triumph and devilry.
Although Erin Wall (Desdemona)’s emotion shone through in her performance, she lacked a connection with Antonello Palombi as Otello. A truly important piece of this work is that audiences believe their love for each other, so Iago’s deception and Cassio’s assumed betrayal cuts us equally as deep as it does Otello. Unfortunately, we lacked that depth. Despite any acting issues, Palombri had a spectacular voice. He mastered the complex vocals, effortlessly providing nuance and power throughout the night.
The most impressive part of this production really came down to the set design and lighting. With expansive sets that were required to double for Dead Man Walking, Erhard Rom created something special. The tall-walled set created images of a sea fortress, big castle, cosy, fireside fun and stark prison-like bedchambers with only minor additions each scene.
Otello made for an overall impressive evening, with a well-rounded cast and wonderful symphony led by Jonathan Darlington.