Operatic Othello comes to Tring

Justine Viani

Justine Viani

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Verdi’s great operatic tragedy Otello, based on Shakespeare’s Othello, is to be performed with a cast including professional singers in the lead roles.

Aylesbury Opera will present the story in a fully staged production with orchestra, sung in English, at The Court Theatre in Tring.

Based closely on the Bard’s script, this tale of an outsider, a great hero who could not control his jealousy, was carefully moulded by Verdi’s librettist Arrigo Boito into a taut and powerful opera text.

The production features a stellar cast with Nicholas Buxton as Otello, Oliver Gibbs as Iago and Justine Viani (pictured) as Desdemona.

Often cited as Italian opera’s greatest tragedy, Otello is a miraculous union of music and drama, a masterpiece as profound philosophically as it is thrilling theatrically.

The opera depicts the devastating effects of jealousy, “the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds upon”.

Believing Otello has promoted the fast-rising Cassio over himself, Iago plots to destroy both Cassio and Otello.

Iago convinces the jealous Otello that his beautiful wife Desdemona is unfaithful, and that Cassio is her lover.

Jealousy is followed by tragedy, then retribution, “Has Heaven no more thunderbolts?”

From an explosive opening, Otello is a gigantic string of sometimes beautiful, often exquisite melodic fragments that are never given the opportunity to fully develop. Thus Verdi’s musical language for Shakespeare’s play matches the episodic nature of the drama.

This fragmentary technique leaves the listener expectant and completely unprepared for what will come next, all crucial factors in the genre of suspense, of which Otello is a supreme example.

Justine Viani, who plays Desdemona, was born and raised in Australia but is now a naturalised UK citizen and lives in London.

A soprano, she has won several prizes at the Royal Northern College of Music and completed her Masters with Dennis O’Neill at the Wales International Academy of Voice.

She has participated in international singing competitions and in 2012 was a semi-finalist in Placido Domingo’s Operalia competition.

She made her stage debut seven years ago singing the title role in Richard Strauss’ Salome to great success at the Theatre der Stadt in Heidelberg.

The following year she made her French debut singing the title role in Tosca at Opera de Bauge.

Aylesbury Opera will present Otello at The Court Theatre in Tring at 7.30pm on Wednesday, March 1, Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4.

Tickets cost £16, concessions £15 and are available from www.courttheatre.co.uk