Review Roundup: LoftOpera Production of Rossini's OTHELLO
LoftOpera opened Rossini's OTHELLO on March 16 in Brooklyn.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM, NY Times: It took me a while to warm to Bernard Holcomb who, as Otello, should have been the alpha male. But while there was an appealing sweetness and clarity to his tone, his runs initially sounded wooden and dry. In the course of the evening his voice gained vibrancy and intensity, matching his character's descent into manipulated madness... Rossini gives Rodrigo some of the most athletic passagework in "Otello," and the technical difficulties were sometimes all too apparent in the performance of Thor Arbjornsson. In the more melodic passages he produced a lovely plangent sound and elegant phrasing, but in virtuosic showpieces like his Act 2 aria, ornaments often came out smudged and colorless.
Richard Sasanow, BroadwayWorld: In the LoftOpera production, Desdemona makes a strong case for being the center of the story, as the fleshed-out character that Shakespeare and, following him, Boito, neglected to give us. Luckily for LoftOpera, they put the role in the hands of the voluptuously voiced Lopez, who took the opportunity to dominate the stage.
David Patrick Stearns, OperaVore: The three LoftOpera tenors seem to be Rossini specialists - as opposed to lyric tremors muscling their way through the coloratura - attuned to style and with a vocal flexibility that allows high notes to be more than technical achievements but key plot points, whether at the climax of a physical confrontation or at a psychological breaking point. Most notable on that front was the Rodrigo of Thor Arbjornsson, whose slim but vibrant tenor comes with a coloratura technique that sounds like the most natural thing in the world. Yes, plenty of high notes are there, and they're also thrilling. In the title role, Bernard Holcomb was perhaps the most complete musico-dramatic package, with the stage magnetism needed for the role plus a more full-bodied tenor sound with penetrating high notes. As Iago, Blake Friedman had all the necessary notes but with a tone that's still developing.