A production owned by the Washington Opera of Verdi's Otello opened at San Francisco Opera last Wednesday. Tenor Ben Heppner was to sing the titular role, but withdrew earlier in the year. Consequently, the part is now being shared by Jon Fredric West and Timothy Mussard. West's voice is not particularly stunning. West sounded cold especially next to baritone Sergei Leiferkus' fiery Iago. Patricia Racette was an adequate Desdemona, her voice is neither sweet nor passionate, but has a watery quality that is neither here nor there.
The sets were gorgeous and included beautiful arches devised to look like grey stone. The costumes were what one would expect, mostly Renaissance Venetian in character, with some of the chorus in Orientalist garb.
The choreography was carried off well, there was much swooning and Desdemona was thrown to the ground a few times by Otello, and these movements were staged nicely. Catherine Cook as Emilia seemed as though she were on the verge of a seizure even from the dress circle. Her movements were too big and sharp.
A nice production, but not inspired. Maybe I simply do not like Verdi as well as Mozart or Händel.