Dazzling subtlety

From the Easter Festival to the Philharmonie: Verdi’s “Otello”

Sonya Yoncheva
(Photo: Kristian Schuller)

A splendid start: the Baden-Baden Easter Festival began on 13 April with the premiere of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello under the musical direction of Zubin Mehta. “Zubin Mehta and the Berliner Philharmoniker dazzle with their subtlety,” the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote afterwards. Following the performances in Baden-Baden, Berlin audience can now look forward to Verdi’s Otello in the Philharmonie where Zubin Mehta and the Berliner Philharmoniker will present a concert performance of the opera – with Sonya Yoncheva, who already enchanted audiences in Baden-Baden with her moving portrayal of Otello’s wife, Desdemona.

Moving portrayal

As she points out in the Baden-Baden Festival magazine, she has a very unique view of the character: “Desdemona is not the innocent victim she is frequently portrayed as... She is a strong woman because she decides that she does not want to live in the rigid society she was forced into... And because she loves, unconditionally, beyond all bounds.” The role of the jealous Otello is sung by Arsen Soghomonyan who makes his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, and Luca Salsi is the devilish Iago.

Big emotions

Verdi’s late work – which the Italian composerwrote at the age of 75 – is considered a masterpiece of psychological characterisation. The tragic story of the victorious Venetian general who through his great jealousy and a devilish plot becomes a murderer, gave Verdi the opportunity to lead the audience through a multitude of emotions: triumph, love, despair, pain... And in the three main characters of Otello, Desdemona and Iago, Verdi created roles that are among the most challenging and at the same time most beautiful for tenor, soprano and baritone.