Following the critical and public success of Tristan and Isolde and Der Rosenkavalier, Melbourne Opera will complete its powerful 2018 season with the Australian premiere of Rossini’s dramatic masterpiece Otello.

Otello’s original premiere is considered a momentous milestone in the history of opera, while Melbourne Opera’s Australian premiere will mark the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death.

In a major coup for the independent opera company, Academy Award nominated director Bruce Beresford will helm Melbourne Opera’s new production. Beresford will direct a distinguished cast of international and Australian singers, led by the widely lauded Stephen Smith (Opera Australia) in the title role, with award winning soprano Elena Xanthoudakis (Greek National Opera) as his ill-fated lover Desdemona. Both singers began their careers with Melbourne Opera, before establishing distinguished international careers.

Based on Shakespeare’s famed play Othello, Rossini’s opera was an instant hit when it was first performed in Italy in 1816. It remained incredibly popular until the late 19th century when it was eclipsed by a new version of the opera by Giuseppe Verdi. Since then, Rossini’s masterpiece has been somewhat overlooked and much more rarely performed, until the late 20th century when it began to be performed again in Europe, leading to a triumphant production at Covent Garden in 2000.

Beresford believes that a re-examination of Rossini’s Otello quickly reveals the jewel that it is.

“Rossini’s Otello is intensely dramatic and his characters are incredibly well drawn-out. The skill and complexity of Rossini’s scoring and vocal settings are superb and the final scene, the death of Desdemona, is a unreserved masterpiece,” he says.

7:30pm, 17, 24, 27 October and 2pm 20 October
The Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne

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