Struckmann return boosts Lyric Opera’s “Otello”

Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Johan Botha and Falk Struckmann in the Lyric Opera production of Verdi's "Otello." Photo: Dan Rest
Johan Botha and Falk Struckmann in the Lyric Opera production of Verdi’s “Otello.” Photo: Dan Rest

The return of Falk Struckmann Wednesday night provided a welcome boost to Lyric Opera’s production of Verdi’s Otello.

At last Saturday’s season-opening performance  the German bass-baritone withdrew from the role of Iago after Act 1 citing “severe allergies.” Cover Todd Thomas sang the rest of the performance.

Struckmann is clearly still not one hundred percent, as evidenced by some raw, strained top notes, even with sipping water on stage. Yet vocally his vividly characterized villain was largely terrific. Possessed of a robust, Italianate voice, Struckmann delivered a powerful Credo and Si, pel ciel was the thrilling duet it should be (even with one of Struckmann’s high notes disappearing). Dramatically, his oily and venomous characterization was spot-on, enough to elicit loud boos from clueless audience members at the curtain call. (Hint: He’s playing a character, people.)

Struckmann’s vivid performance seemed to inspire his colleagues as well and this second Otello performance overall was a marked improvement over the tentative and unfocused opener last weekend.

In the strenuous, title role, Johan Botha sang with even greater gleam and impact than on opening night. Perhaps stung by the criticism of his stiff acting, the tenor was a more involved presence, bringing greater energy and dramatic conviction to the Moor’s psychic desperation and mounting insanity.

Ana Maria Martinez appears even more comfortable in her portrayal of Desdemona, and her radiant singing in the tragic final scene remains the production’s highlight.

Otello runs through November 2.; 312-332-2244.

Posted in Performances

2 Responses to “Struckmann return boosts Lyric Opera’s “Otello””

  1. Posted Oct 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm by John Howes

    I think this review is very much on target. Johan Botha was good, Falk Struckmann was excellent. But, Ana Maria Martinez was by far the best performer on stage. Her death scene was positively gripping. The whole production was excellent, made so in large measure by Ms. Martinez.

  2. Posted Oct 18, 2013 at 8:11 am by Bill Botwick

    Yesterday’s performance was superb. Botha’s acting was still a bit wooden, but his voice was fantastic. All three leading roles were fantastic.

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