Cura Bad, Frittoli Fantastic: The 60th Santander International Festival Opens with a Mixed Otello

SpainSpain  G. Verdi, Otello: Soloists, Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, Bilbao Opera Chorus. Mario de Rose (conductor). Santander Festival Palace. 01.08.2011 (JMI)

Concert Version


Otello: José Cura
Desdemona: Barbara Frittoli
Iago: Lado Ataneli
Cassio: Carlos Osuna
Emilia: Marie Kalinine
Ludovico: Jean-Vincent Blot
Montano: Florent Mbia
Roderigo: Santiago Lanza.

Verdi’s Otello in concert inaugurated the 60th Santander International Festival—a hint of the financial crisis that has affected the program of the Festival, leaving marks on its usual standard of excellence.

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Verdi, Otello,
C.Kleiber / Philharmonia / Freni, Domingo, Cappucilli
Opera D’Oro

The musical direction was in the hands of the Argentine Mario de Rose, a regular José Cura accompanist and sometime composer. He is presumably in his early 50s and hasn’t so far had a notable career. He couldn’t have aspired to more than delivering a proper and adequate result and with his efficient and correct reading he achieved just that. The Bilbao Symphony Orchestra responded well to him and Bilbao Opera Chorus had an excellent evening

José Cura sang a disappointing Otello, especially compared to past performances I have heard of him in this role. He was frequently inaudible, taking refuge in a whispered delivery which I found doomed his Otello to failure.

Barbara Frittoli’s Desdemona left no question about the more appropriate title of the opera having been Desdemona and not Otello. She is a remarkable singer, with a perfectly handled, beautiful soprano. The public was spot on offering to her the only ovations mid-scene, after her “Willow Song” and the “Ave Maria”.

Iago was to have been played by Vladimir Stoyanov, but he cancelled and was replaced by Lado Ataneli, whom I found better vocally than a few days ago at the premiere of Tosca in Madrid. (S&H review here.) He has matured the character since the first time I saw him as Iago in Barcelona and proved a convincing interpreter.

The secondary characters were very weak, some of them so much that it was difficult to believe they would be allowed on stage. The best of all of them was the Herald sung by a member of the chorus.

José MªIrurzun