Stephen Johnson is joined by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Lawrence Renes, to unpick and explain some of the many ingredients that make Verdi's opera Otello arguably as equal an achievement in the art of theatre as the Shakespeare play on which it is based. How does the composer suggest the complex psychology of his characters through his music? How does he use the orchestra to evoke the poetic equivalent of Shakespeares verse?
Otello is one of two great masterpieces of the operatic repertory that Verdi composed in the eighth decade of his life. Written in 1887, it was followed six years later by his final opera, Falstaff. The two works were the fruits of his association with librettist and composer Arrigo Boito, both taking as their inspiration plays by Shakespeare.
With relevant excerpts performed by a cast of leading singers, including Amanda Roocroft as Desdemona, Anthony Michaels-Moore as Iago and David Rendall as Otello. The programme also features appearances from Edward Price as Montano, Edward Goater as Cassio and Christopher Bowen as Rodrigo.