The just-released CSO Resound recording of Verdi’s Otello, conducted by Riccardo Muti, is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first complete opera recording in nearly two decades and only the seventh opera in the orchestra’s vast recorded catalog.
The Chicago Symphony has recorded orchestral opera excerpts and overtures since the year of its first commercial release, beginning with the “Ride of the Valkyries” from Wagner’s Die Walküre, conducted by Frederick Stock, in 1916; its discs of major scenes from Strauss’ Elektra and Salome with Inge Borkh under Fritz Reiner, made in the mid-1950s, are among the glories of the catalog.
The CSO did not record a complete opera until Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman under Sir Georg Solti in 1976. Since then, there have been four other opera releases under Solti (Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, in 1995, was the last) and one, Bluebeard’s Castle by Bartók, conducted by Pierre Boulez, the CSO’s Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus.
Otello, released to coincide with the bicentennial of Verdi’s birth, was recorded live during sold-out performances given in Orchestra Hall in April 2011. It is the CSO’s second recording under music director Riccardo Muti, following the Grammy Award-winning release of Verdi’s Requiem Mass in 2010. Muti’s performances of Otello were universally acclaimed both in Chicago and at Carnegie Hall in New York. This new recording documents one of the most important Verdi conductors of the recording era in the composer’s final tragic masterpiece. The cast features Aleksandrs Antonenko in the title role, Krassimira Stoyanova as Desdemona, and Carlo Guelfi as Iago, along with the Chicago Symphony Chorus (directed by chorus master Duain Wolfe) and the Chicago Children’s Choir (directed by Josephine Lee).
ABOVE: Riccardo Muti and guest soloists Krassimira Stoyanova, Aleksandrs Antonenko, along with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, take a bow after a performance of Verdi’s “Otello” at Carnegie Hall. | Todd Rosenberg Photography