Performing Ot(h)ello: Verdi, Salvini, and the stage manual

De Francisci, E. (2022) Performing Ot(h)ello: Verdi, Salvini, and the stage manual. Cambridge Opera Journal, 34(3), pp. 293-308. (doi: 10.1017/S0954586722000258)

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This article retraces Giuseppe Verdi's Otello (1887) to the great Italian mattatori (star actors), particularly Tommaso Salvini (1829–1915), whose ground-breaking performances of the Moor of Venice, in a translation by Giulio Carcano, coincided with the time when Verdi and his librettist, Arrigo Boito, were collaborating on their Otello. The grandi attori enjoyed a reputation for realistic immediacy and impulsiveness readily associated with cultural stereotypes about Italy's perceived ‘otherness’. In the ethnographic context of nineteenth-century Italy, it is argued here that the actors’ interpretation of Shakespeare's Moor not only synthesised the multilateral cultural threads of the Jacobean Othello, but also partnered this racial alterity with a new dramatic language, which went on to influence Verdi's opera and prompt book, and, ultimately, to perpetuate an exoticised ‘brand’ of Italian artistic culture on stage at a time when Italy was fashioning its own national identity.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:De Francisci, Dr Enza
Authors: De Francisci, E.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Journal Name:Cambridge Opera Journal
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):1474-0621
Published Online:23 December 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Author(s), 2022
First Published:First published in Cambridge Opera Journal 34(3):293-308
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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