Listen: LoftOpera Directors Discuss Their Fresh Take on Rossini's 'Otello'

Friday, March 17, 2017 - 02:00 PM

The LoftOpera orchestra performing during Rossini's 'Otello' (Robert Altman)

As they were gearing up to open the LoftOpera season with Rossini’s Otello, music director Sean Kelly and stage director John de los Santos joined us in the studio to answer the question of why this opera hasn’t been staged in New York in 40 years. Composed in 1816—70 years before Verdi’s better-known version of Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy about the green-eyed monster—Rossini’s opera is relatively unfamiliar to fans and singers alike. Kelly and Santos say that this has a lot to do with the technical and vocal demands of the piece, and the fact that it requires four tenors who all have a unique sound and can pull off some challenging vocal lines. They feel very lucky to have found their current cast, which includes Bernard Holcomb as Otello, Cecilia Lopez as Desdemona, and Blake Friedman as Iago.

The current production is staged at the LightSpace Studios, a large photo and film production space in Brooklyn. LoftOpera always looks for new and different venues for their shows (past productions have been produced in a warehouse circus school and a chocolate factory) in order to give the audience a fresh and unexpected experience of opera. The company aims to “scrap the way opera is produced nowadays and put on a show for our friends that we’re excited about.” With their inexpensive tickets, unusual venues and repertoire, immersive approach, and cheap beer, they’re setting out to make opera for everyone. “It doesn’t matter if you’re young, old, rich, broke, an opera newbie or an opera queen. You don’t need to break the bank for a front row seat, and you don’t need to know the arias to enjoy the show.”

LoftOpera’s production of Rossini’s Otello is playing at the LightSpace Studios through March 27.

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