Performance | Premiere of Otello | High Romantic | Opera
The opening of Otello at La Scala on 5 February 1887 was a major occasion, which musicians and critics attended from all over the world. People’s excitement mounted to fever pitch, both inside and outside the opera house. They were not to be disappointed. The seamless continuity of the opera, the lavish costumes, the richness and sophistication of the orchestral settings and the perfect harmony of the poetry and music guaranteed the opera’s instant success. The audience was captivated from the opening lines and at the final curtain both Verdi and his librettist Boito received a standing ovation. It is reported that even after Verdi had retired for the night, crowds thronged around his hotel ‘shouting and yelling’ in appreciation.
Verdi himself was reputed to have been unhappy with the premiere of Otello, which is not surprising given the perfectionist stance he had taken with this particular work all along. However, despite the composer’s dissatisfaction, the opening of the opera was greeted with worldwide acclaim and was recognized as an event of great significance in the shifting trends of operatic style.
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