• Otello

Thursday 12. Mar. 2020, 7.00 pm - 10.00 pm | Main Stage

Giuseppe Verdi


Introduction at 6.20 pm

Otello is the very cause of his own madness. He must fend off envy, enmity and threats – were he sane, this would be easy. He has made his way to the top of the state with reason: surely not by being overly squeamish with his competitors. However, he is stricken, and what has rocked his foundations is the loneliness of the jealous and the betrayed. He thinks himself betrayed by his wife, yet in truth he is betrayed about this betrayal. That he of all people has fallen prey to intrigue might have something to do with the fact that he is a member of a minority, a social lightning-rod for others. That, however, is not the point. Boito and Verdi tell the tale of a man driven to a state of hopelessness. He is no longer able to act consistently and consequently. He has become the cause of his own madness.

Director: Calixto Bieito
Set Designer: Susanne Gschwender
Costume Designer: Ingo Krügler
Lighting Designer: Michael Bauer
Dramaturgy: Ute Vollmar

Premiere: 08.01.2017

A break of 25 minutes after the second act

In Italian with German and English surtitles
A revival from Theater Basel

[Read more]

Act I

Fierce storm. The crowd watches the ships of the fleet led by Othello in the stormy sea. Finally, Othello reaches the harbour. He declares victory over the Turks. Jago, his sergeant, seeks revenge, because Othello had promoted Cassio ahead of him. Together with Rodrigo, who is tragically in love with Othello’s wife Desdemona, he encourages Cassio to get drunk at the victory celebration and starts a fight. Othello intervenes. He stops the tumult and degrades Cassio. Alone with Desdemona, they reminisce over how their love had once begun.

Act II

Jago advises Cassio to plead forgiveness from Othello through Desdemona. He makes Othello suspicious, by hinting to him that Cassio was her lover.
The crowd worships Desdemona. When Desdemona asks Othello to forgive Cassio, he angrily refuses. During the argument, Desdemona loses her handkerchief. Emilia, Jago's wife, takes it, but Jago tears it away from her. Othello demands that Jago should prove Desdemona’s guilt. Jago claims to have heard Cassio talking about his secret love for Desdemona in his sleep. Additionally, he claims to have seen her handkerchief in Cassio's possession. Othello is convinced his wife is being unfaithful and, together with Jago, vows revenge.


Othello asks Desdemona to show him the handkerchief he had once given her as a sign of their love – but with no success. He calls her a whore. In the meantime, Jago has smuggled the handkerchief to Cassio. He stages a conversation with him, upon which Othello should eavesdrop. Jago misleads Cassio to say obscene things about his beloved Bianca, and finally gets him to show the handkerchief he had found. Othello, only understanding fragments of the conversation, thinks they are talking about Desdemona and sees her guilt as proven.
Lodovico, a delegate of the senate, brings Othello the news that he has to return to Venice and declares Cassio to be his successor. Othello publicly humiliates Desdemona. Jago spurs Rodrigo on to kill Cassio at night and urges Othello to take revenge on Desdemona as soon as possible.

Act IV

Desdemona sings the sad song of the willow. She says goodbye to Emilia. Then she prays, “Ave Maria”. Othello comes and declares that he will kill her, because she cheated on him with Cassio. Desdemona swears that she is innocent, but in vain. Othello kills Desdemona.
When Emilia arrives with the news that Cassio has killed Rodrigo, she finds the dying Desdemona and calls for help. Cassio, Jago, Lodovico and Montano answer the call. Emilia reveals her husband’s intrigues. The truth kills Othello.

Translation: Adrian Leisewitz

Venue: Main Stage, Dammtorstraße 28, 20354 Hamburg
Prices: 6,00 EUR to 109,00 EUR

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