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ALLA BREVE

November 09, 1986

VERDI: "OTELLO." Katia Ricciarelli, Placido Domingo, Justino Diaz, Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro alla Scala di Milano, conducted by Loren Maazel. Angel DSB-3993. This sound-track recording of the Franco Zeffirelli film offers the customary Verdi score (minus ballet interpolations) rather than the heavily abridged version that made the final cut of the movie. Minus the visuals, however, you still get all of Zeffirelli's fulsome sound effects (why add thunder to a recording when Verdi's storm remains the last word in operatic tempests?) and a fatally low-level recording flawed by murky balances and outrageously substandard LP pressings. The principals all sound cowed by the director's oppressively creative presence. Domingo's Moor fails to communicate either the rage or vulnerability he showed here in his recent live performances. Ricciarelli manages Desdemona with a wisp of a voice, although Diaz delivers Iago with a modicum of suitable malevolence. Maazel pulls phrases this way and that, relishing the climactic moments and disappearing in between.

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