Context


Otello is Verdi’s penultimate opera. After going into retirement after the success of his opera, Aida, Verdi was pulling and prodded in the attempt to get him to come out of retirement to write another piece. His publisher, Giulio Ricordi, tried for ten years to get him to even revise some of his former works, let alone write a new work. Arrigo Boito came on board to assist Verdi to revise Simon Boccanegra which helped Verdi get on board with the idea of a collaboration with Boito on a new piece. Boito had already written the libretto for Otello based on Shakepeare’s play, Othello, and he and Ricordi worked hard to get Verdi to agree to compose the music. Being a long-time lover of Shakespeare and his works, Verdi finally agreed. Originally, the piece was to be called Iago, because Otello was fascinated by his character, but because Rossini wrote a piece entitled Otello and it was such a masterpiece, he went with the title character of Otello. While there was resistance along the way, Verdi’s Otello was performed to incredible success. Since its premiere in 1887, it has been performed often worldwide, solidifying its place in opera history.

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