Othello/ Otello: In words and mu­sic

Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS -

One of the sum­mits of the Shake­spearean canon is Othello — which would be called Iago if the ti­tle re­flected who gets the greater al­lo­ca­tion of lines in the play. Its themes in­clude jeal­ousy, credulity, and pol­i­tics, but race also as­sumes a large role in this work, which was first pub­lished un­der the ti­tle The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. When he grows to sus­pect his wife of in­fi­delity, Othello even ex­claims, “Her name, that was as fresh/As Dian’s vis­age, is now be­grimed and black/As mine own face.” It was long cus­tom­ary for the ti­tle part to be played by white ac­tors wear­ing dark make-up, a tra­di­tion that in the past half-cen­tury has bless­edly ceded to sim­ply cast­ing great black ac­tors. On Tues­day, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m., the Jean Cocteau Cin­ema (418 Mon­tezuma Ave., 505-466-5528) screens the play as cap­tured live in a new pro­duc­tion by the UK’s Royal Shake­speare Com­pany (pic­tured), di­rected by Iqbal Khan, in which Hugh Quarshie (as Othello) and Lu­cian Msamati (as Iago) are both Bri­tish ac­tors of black African ori­gins, which in­vites a fur­ther level of in­ter­pre­ta­tion for Bar­dophiles to wrap their heads around. Tick­ets, $24, are avail­able by vis­it­ing www.jean­cocteaucin­ema.com and at the door. The work’s op­er­atic trans­for­ma­tion, as Verdi’s Otello, held on to the black­face tra­di­tion far longer (the tal­ent pool of singers ca­pa­ble of con­quer­ing the role be­ing tiny), but this sea­son, in a new pro­duc­tion by Bartlett Sher, the Metropoli­tan Opera is sim­ply hav­ing the Lat­vian tenor Alek­san­drs An­to­nenko ap­pear in the ti­tle role as the Cau­casian he is — and ditto Iago (Ser­bian bari­tone Željko Lucˇic´) and Des­de­mona (Bul­gar­ian so­prano Sonya Yoncheva). It will be broad­cast as part of the se­ries The Met: Live in HD, at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter (211 W. San Fran­cisco St.) at 11 a.m. on Satur­day, Oct. 17, with an encore screen­ing at 6 p.m. on Mon­day, Oct. 19. Tick­ets ($22 to $28 on Satur­day, $22 on Mon­day) are avail­able through www.tick­etssantafe.org or by call­ing 505-988-1234. — James M. Keller

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