Thursday, 11 August 2011

August Opera Challenge Day Eleven: Best Tragic Opera

There are so many operas that end in tragedy, so it's really been quite hard to choose. As different works have floated into my head as being possible subjects for this post, I've tried to concentrate on how the music of each really makes me feel, and I think that it was one particular aria from Verdi's Otello that really swung it for me- Desdemona's Ave Maria. That's not to say that it's the only part of the opera that affects me deeply, but it's definitely the part at which you realise there's no way out for her, or for him. 

Otello's based on one of the most famous tragic plays ever written, and with music by the master of the dramatic, how could you not be moved? It's one of those operas that I'm always tempted to watch with my hands over my eyes. Even though I know how it's going to end, I always want to yell out and tell Otello what's going on before everything gets out of control and he ends up murdering his wife. But of course, that wouldn't be the done thing...It tends to take me some time to recover after it's all over, and that's how it should be with a tragic opera. You need to be utterly devastated or something somewhere has gone a bit wrong. 

I couldn't not have a picture of Domingo as Otello- I adore him and it's one of his career defining roles, but I'm choosing Maria Callas singing the Ave Maria. I think it's the knowledge you have of what is going to happen to Desdemona that makes this aria unbearably sad, and the music itself is simply stunning- one of my favourite things composed by Verdi. Lots of sopranos sing it beautifully, but the depth of Callas's voice and that characteristic tremble really add to the heartbreaking sadness, and as always, she brings the part to life without us even needing to see her. Sob.

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