Verdi: Otello - Domingo, Freni, Cappuccilli; Kleiber. Milano, 1976

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This performance of Otello in my opinion is about as close to definitive as you can come. That is not to discount the many great singers who have sung in this opera, but the synergy of the likes of Placido Domingo, Mirella Freni, Piero Cappuccilli and Carlos Kleiber creates the kind of rare magic that one can only hope to encounter once or twice over a lifetime of opera-going. Placido Domingo had only been singing this role for a year at the time of this performance and is in exceptional voice. He approaches the dizzying demands of this role with almost reckless abandon and if the top of his voice may show slight signs of strain, his athletic production only helps to highlight the desperation of the character. Mirella Freni is a perfect counterpoint to his wild moor and sings with ethereal beauty. Piero Cappuccilli's malevolent Iago manages a good balance between the astute politician and sociopathic villain and sings with elegance and remarkable security (he joins Domingo at the end of "Si, pel ciel" with a high A that would be the envy of many tenors.) Tying all of the components together is Carlos Kleiber. As with many Kleiber performances there are idiosyncrasies, but the many beautiful moments he is able to extract from Verdi's score seem miraculous. Kleiber, more than any other conductor I know, had the ability to make you feel like you were hearing a work you know like the back of your hand for the first time. The sound is excellent.

OD 10886-2

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