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★★★ "Otello may be the most cruelly taxing tenor part in the entire Italian opera repertory, full of outsize vocal demands that make the role hard to cast. Fortunately the Moor's music sits comfortably within the range and capabilities of Botha's brawny but appealing voice, its power and plangency reaching easily to ringing high notes. Yet for the scene in Desdemona's bedchamber the South African-born tenor could scale down his sound in an affecting manner. Too bad this mountain of a man is such a stolid actor. Where was the pity and terror this complex character should arouse in the audience? Botha gave us little of that. It's worth noting that, at Freud's behest, Botha eschewed the blackface makeup that remains a shameful part of "Otello" performance tradition in most opera houses, even though the spoken theater has long since banished its use in performances of the original Shakespeare 'Othello.' A few patches of uncertain coordination between stage and pit took nothing away from the orchestra's responsive work. The chorus delivered some of the finest singing one has heard from them in quite a while, clear evidence of the thorough preparation of Michael Black, Lyric's recently returned chorus master." - John von Rhein
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