Sony Classical announces the release of the full studio recording of Verdi’s masterpiece opera Otello with Jonas Kaufmann singing the title role and Antonio Pappano conducting the Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Soprano Federica Lombardi sings her role debut as Desdemona and baritone Carlos Álvarez takes the role of Jago. The recording captures in perfect studio conditions the great tenor role that Kaufmann first performed in the Royal Opera House’s 2017 production, where he sang “an Otello for the Ages” (The New York Times).
Completed under ideal recording conditions in Rome over an extensive two-week period last summer, this recording presents the acclaimed collaboration between Jonas Kaufmann and conductor Antonio Pappano, who conducted Kaufmann’s remarkable Covent Garden Otello debut. The Independent remarked then on the conductor’s “masterful sweep of the whole”. It is the first Roman Otello since the legendary Living Stereo recording of 1960, with Jon Vickers, Leonie Rysanek and Tito Gobbi under the baton of Tullio Serafin.
Otello represents the absolute pinnacle of Italian tenor roles and demands everything of the singer, both vocally and dramatically. Jonas Kaufmann explains, “Those colours, the passion that makes Otello’s suspicions escalate to white heat… It is, to put it simply, from beginning to end a piece that poses huge emotional demands. But as soon as you get your voice and emotions under control, it’s fantastic to sing.”
This recording is a milestone in Kaufmann’s long journey to become today’s key exponent of this legendary role. His fascination with the work was ignited in 2001, when he sang the secondary tenor role of Cassio in Chicago’s Lyric Opera Otello production alongside Ben Heppner, Renée Fleming and Lucio Gallo. After recording two Otello scenes for his outstanding Verdi Album in 2013, Kaufmann admitted he had “tasted blood and after that I wanted nothing more than to sing the entire part” – but not before he had mastered the other great Italian roles: Manrico, Alvaro, Des Grieux, Canio, Turiddu and Andrea Chénier, which he accomplished in the following four years.
Finally in the summer of 2017 he sang his keenly awaited role debut at the Royal Opera House – the Financial Times summing up the anticipation with: “Not since Plácido Domingo essayed the role a generation earlier have expectations been pitched so high.” The response from the press was resounding: “Mr. Kaufmann … calmly, confidently sang it for the ages. His sound inescapably evokes memories of live performances and classic recordings by Vinay, Vickers and other masters; in a single night he joined their company” (The New York Times); “Jonas Kaufmann cements his legacy as one of history’s great Otellos” (Operawire); “Jonas Kaufmann’s triumphant Otello premiere”(Diapason); “Kaufmann thrills in a dark expressionistic staging” (The Guardian).
The live cinema cast of his debut run was subsequently released on DVD & Blu-ray by Sony Classical. Since these landmark performances, Kaufmann has deepened his portrayal of the tragic protagonist, in the Bavarian State Opera’s new production of Otello in 2018.