Reviews – Otello 2014

Reviews – Otello 2014

REVIEWS – OTELLO 2014

“Astonishingly good.” “On a level with Plácido Domingo.” “Opera på Skäret has succeeded again.”

The critics are pouring praise over Opera på Skäret’s production of Otello after the two premieres on July 26 and 27. The singers and orchestra, as well as direction and scenography, have all been lauded.

According to Dagens Nyheter’s critic Nicholas Ringskog Ferrada-Noli, Otello is “one of the potentially strongest opera experiences. This requires singers who are both vocally talented and can act with depth, as well as an orchestra that can capture all the music’s nuances. That is the case with this production under the direction of William Relton.”

Ferrada-Noli points out the special chemistry between Michal Lehotsky’s Otello and Charlotta Larsson’s Desdemona: “…their love feels so authentic that this writer was moved to tears right from their duet in the first act. Larsson sings astonishingly well and Lehotsky is one with her role.” The third principal singer, Ole Jjörgen Kristiansen, is described as “the dreadful Iago with bravura, slippery as an eel and masterfully manipulative.”

Dagens Nyheter’s reviewer describes Cordelia Chisholm’s scenography as congenial, and adds that the orchestra, under the direction of Marcello Mottadelli, “displays a continual eagerness[1], but without drowning out the song.” He concludes by saying that “Opera på skäret does justice to this masterpiece. A visit is warmly recommended.”

Svenska Dagbladet’s reviewer, Karin Helander, praises the singers as “…a fine ensemble, where the minor roles are also profiled,” and points out especially the principle, Michal Lehotsky, as “a shining heroic tenor who lets madness and distraction mercilessly disintegrate Otello into nothingness.”

She refers to Ole Jörgen Kristiansen’s Iago as “a consistent study of thirst for revenge, lack of empathy and the desire to drive people to the abyss.” Charlotta Larsson “provides a brilliantly lyrical Desdemona, with a soprano voice burning with sensuous warmth and inner pleading, and then moving on to consternation, self-control and horror.”

Svenska Dagbladet’s reviewer calls the production “talented and well done”, the scenography “scaled back and well done” and considers the choir to “reach out to the audience with full power” and that the orchestra maintains “good class under the direction of Marcello Mottadelli.”

Aftonbladet’s Claes Wahlin describes the singing voices as “generally good, with strength and temperament”, and singles out – just as Dagens Nyheter did – Charlotta Larsson, who “sustains her interpretation of Desdemona all the way to the final pianissimo of prayer in the Willow Song.”

Måns Uggla of Nerikes Allehanda follows the same line when he calls Charlotta Larsson “the brightest star” and writes that “Larsson’s soprano presents a large, full resonance across the entire register, and is ready for the major world stages.”

Dala-Demokaten’s Gustaf Berglund joins in the choir of praise for Bergslagen’s own opera prima donna: “The strongest impression is made by Desdemona in Charlotta Larsson’s warm presentation.”

He further describes the production in these terms: “The great Italian operas demand feeling. Uncensored, with no safety nets. As here, in Otello. The public sat breathless during the final scene, after a three-hour performance.”

He reminded us that Opera på Skäret has managed its own grand productions, with international stars in the leading roles, for the 11th summer in a row, to which “the public travels from near and far” – and states “one can easily say that Opera på Skäret has succeeded.”

OPS_premiarsucceGöran Forsling of Seen and Heard International had special praise for Maestro Mottadelli, who “has worked wonders with the orchestra: powerful brass, silken strings – the orchestral music before Ave Maria is truly stunning – and elsewhere he charges the music with such intensity and punch that Toscanini probably applauded in his Heaven.”

After the second premiere, Expressen’s reviewer Lars Sjöberg lauded Richard Bauer unreservedly for his Otello: “Plácido Domingo performed it year after year, everywhere. Bauer did it at his level, and if it only occurred this one time, at Skäret this Sunday, at least I was there. And I cried.”

He describes the set as “compressed and scaled back, with an austere set design and costuming… in a personally directed balance between theatrical and musical tempo.” According to him, Marcello Mottadelli conducted ”with the right combination of Italian pressure and security, and also managed to restore song and action after an adventurous power cut that produced a blackout.”

The blackout was the result of a fierce lightning storm, “making demands beyond the theatrical and vocal performance, namely cool-headedness during three acts accompanied by rolling thunder and pattering rain, which despite the extra artillery, failed to shatter Kamila Benhamza’s fine ‘Ave Maria’.”

Read the reviews here (in Swedish unless otherwise noted):

Seen and Heard International (English)
Svenska Dagbladet
Expressen
Aftonbladet
Dala-Demokraten