Otello - Royal Opera House, 18 and 21 July 2012
The gentlemen of the Royal Opera House orchestra made the earth move for me more times than I can remember this week. I couldn't see much from my stage-side seat. But I could certainly feel the massive opening drum roll thundering out beneath me, rattling my innards with its seismic power. Good job I hadn't eaten first.
Of course he could. After the disappointment of Les Troyens, he and his orchestra were back on top form with this magnificently played revival. So what if the sets are a yawn and Iago delivers his paean to absolute evil in a pair of puffy shorts?
The title role is near-impossible to cast, but the massive Aleksandrs Antonenko met its every demand with a voice of clarion authority. Anja Harteros sang Desdemona as glamorously as we'd all hoped and expected, and Lucio Gallo, cursed with a lightish voice and the face of a favourite uncle, embodied Iago as the most dangerous type of enemy - the disingenuous sort. Hanna Hipp left yet another memorable impression as the maid Emilia, and the young Italian tenor Antonio Poli made a sympathetic Cassio.
And a word for the veteran fight director, William Hobbs. Get a fight scene wrong, or underplay it, and what should be a moment of supreme dramatic tension suddenly turns into an embarrassing giggle. Covent Garden often falls short in all sorts of areas, but its scraps put any other opera house in the world to shame. The drunken brawl choreographed by Hobbs was as tense and thrilling as the music behind it. Another classic.
Thanks to Kyoko for this curtain call video from the Wednesday show: