After staging Puccini's harrowing and heart-wrenching Tosca last year, Opera Siam is going once more unto the breach with an Italian tragedy, this time in the form of Verdi's masterpiece Otello.
Featuring stars from major opera houses with Somtow Sucharitkul as director and conductor, Opera Siam’s Otello will be staged at Thailand Cultural Centre on Feb 28 at 8pm.
However, this time there will be a Thai twist, a unique production timed to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Verdi's birth and the 100th anniversary of HM King Rama VI's adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello, on which the opera is based.
"This will be the kind of production that continues to demonstrate why Opera magazine in London and Opera News in New York have called us the operatic hub of the region," said artistic director Somtow Sucharitkul who will both conduct and direct this production. "We not only use the stars from major opera houses like Covent Garden, New York City Opera and English National Opera in this production, but give the production the kind of perspective that is only possible in Bangkok."
Verdi's Otello is true to Shakespeare, its libretto translating much of the text literally into Italian. King Rama VI's version is also faithful to Shakespeare, keeping virtually all of the text although changing the setting to the Srivijaya Empire, which governed the region from Sumatra a thousand years ago.
Opera Siam's Otello will be unique. The audience will hear Verdi's music in all its passion and beauty while being treated to the visual splendour of King Rama VI's concept.
"This production will show that here, at the crossroads of so many civilisations, Bangkok has a truly global culture," said Somtow.
"I'd like to help to further King Rama VI's vision of a world artistic heritage."
Phya Rachawangsan, King Rama VI's play, reimagines Othello as a Moorish captain fighting pirates in Malacca instead of Cyprus, but the subtext of prejudice against the darker-skinned khaek retains all its power.
The story of the noble general manipulated by a treacherous aide and destroyed by his own jealous rage speaks across centuries and cultures. It is timeless.
American tenor Jeff Springer, the ever-popular soprano Nancy Yuen, Covent Garden's Phillip Joll, and Spanish tenor Javier Agullo will perform the leading roles. Somtow Sucharitkul will direct and conduct the Siam Philharmonic Orchestra.
Otello will be staged in the main hall of Thailand Cultural Centre on Feb 28 at 8pm. Tickets cost 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 baht and can be purchased from Thai Ticket Major booths (tel 02-262-3456). For group rates and school discounts, contact Opera Siam/Bangkok Opera on 02-231-5273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.