Fourth Otello last night. And I did sort of claim I would stop posting after every performance but oh, what the hell. I'm a completist. Not that I suppose there's very much left to say.
I was in the second last row of the stalls, which makes a change from my usual front loge seats. I can't deny that I'd rather see Cheryl & co at close range, but it's interesting to have wider view. There are aspects of the production which actually come across better from a distance. I hadn't really noticed until last night that the whole set actually tilts slightly, adding to that sense of a world gradually sliding into destruction. Details of blocking — especially all the sinister skulking Iago does — made more of an impression from afar as well. There are some striking tableaux in this production. The end of the Act I duet, as first Otello, and then Desdemona, ascend the stairs and gaze out into that notte densa, is captivating: the glow of the lighting matches that of the music. And I'm noticing patterns. Everyone seems to meet their downfall at the same spot on those fateful steps: it's where Iago takes in both Roderigo and Cassio, Otello collapses with grief there at least once, and it's where Desdemona sings both her Act III "A terra, si" and much of her final scene, including that terrible, beautiful "Amen". Likewise, the affectionate way in which Otello brings Desdemona's hands together as if in prayer is mirrored later in his much more brutal treatment of her. And as exquisite as they are at a distance of mere feet, Cheryl's pianissimo, unaccompanied "salice"s are even more poignant when they come travelling through so much space and darkness.
Meanwhile, I'm starting to think that my tiny taste of a house with a proper pit has spoilt me for good. Now that I know what I'm missing, I'm more frustrated than ever by the appalling conditions in the Opera Theatre. While the thought of a missing or reduced season frightens me, I think I'm willing to face it if it means doing something to make the world's most recognisable opera house into a good venue for opera.