"An amazing range, with fresh young lows and girlish highs, full, glowing
middle and high registers, a timbre of silk, champagne and sandpaper, a
great lyrical-dramatic soprano," wrote Berlin's Tagesspiegel about Marina
Poplavskaya. The Moscow native was clearly "the queen of this operatic
performance," as the eminent critic Joachim Kaiser put it in the
Süddeutsche Zeitung, and perhaps the most dazzling discovery of this
Salzburg Festival production of Verdi's "Otello."
Poplavskaya's Desdemona shares the limelight on the stage of Salzburg's
Grosses Festspielhaus with her partner Aleksandrs Antonenko, an
up-and-coming Latvian tenor with an impressive stage presence and a light,
heady timbre that gives his Otello a youthful note.
Particularly noteworthy are Carlos Álvarez, a powerful, charismatic
baritone who infuses his manipulating Iago with criminal energy and
threatening darkness; and Stephen Costello, whose sensitive, elegant
Cassio reminds us that this young American tenor is already singing
Donizetti at the Metropolitan Opera. Leading the vocal ensemble and
the Wiener Philharmoniker with commanding presence is the great Riccardo
Muti, whose conducting is "the motor of this Verdi opera" (Wiener Zeitung).
With its "enlightened realism" (Die Welt), Stephen Langridge's production
remains within the boundaries of the "classical" canon of Verdi
interpretation. Using filmic means as well as sand, rain and fire,
Langridge finds many images that underscore the fragility and volatility
of Otello's position as a social outcast and of his love for Desdemona.
Unforgettable is the moment when we see the wronged woman no longer in her
ornate Renaissance gown, but in a simple white nightgown, virginal,
angelic, a lamb waiting for the slaughter...
UNITEL CLASSICA also offers Herbert von Karajan's legendary 1970 Salzburg
production starring Jon Vickers and Mirella Freni.