Verdi: Otello - McCracken, Jones, Gobbi, Van Dam; Santi. Genève, 1966
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Talk about an over-sized Otello! This performance features three powerhouses both in terms of the size of their voice and stage personas. James McCracken's voice is certainly not in the typical Italian mold but he manages a level of intensity that one seldom hears in what may be the most daunting of tenor roles. At the same time there is a vulnerability that comes through in his portrayal and to a certain extent the lack of glamor in his vocal production makes Otello's insecurity seem all the more justified. Gwyneth Jones is ethereal and radiant as Desdemona without making the character seem like a weak pushover as is often the risk with this role. When she musters her formidable spinto reserves especially in the Act III duet with Otello one even gets the sense that Desdemona might even have the strength of character to stand up to Otello. Tito Gobbi was nearing the end of his career in 1966 but nonetheless delivers a robust and nuanced Jago negotiating the technical challenges of this role extremely well. And José van Dam is Lodvico! The sound is generally good although it can be occasionally muffled.