In the Australian premiere of Rossini’s Otello was held on Wednesday 17th October by Melbourne Opera, featuring Stephen Smith as Otello, Boyd Owen as Rodrigo and Henry Choo as the Treacherous Iago. The Director was Australian Film director Bruce Beresford who recently released ‘Ladies in Black.’
The role of Desdemona was performed to great acclaim and acclaimed by all reviewers attending.
Elena dedicates her performances of Desdemona to her late agent Alex Robertson-Jervis.
Elena Xanthoudakis as Desdemona – Image by Robin Halls
Xanthoudakis soars in Australian premiere of Rossini’s rare Otello
But this production belonged to Elena Xanthoudakis, as glorious a Desdemona as she was earlier Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena in the company’s previous productions. In total command of the ferociously demanding coloratura, she provided beauty and power right through the range.
Barney Zwartz The Age 18th October, 2018
Having impressed as Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena for Melbourne Opera in recent years, Elena Xanthoudakis maintained those high standards as Desdemona, interpreting the character with dignified anxiety and vocal assurance. Her pure, agile soprano reached exquisite heights of delicacy and expression in Act III’s Willow Song.
Xanthoudakis shared a fine duet with Dimity Shepherd, who played Desdemona’s companion Emilia with sympathy and a supple mezzo voice.
Patricia Maunder, Limelight Magazine 18th October, 2018
With radiant soprano Elena Xanthoudakis’ mellifluous beauty and quality trills capturing attention, it’s Desdemona who deserves the opera in her name.”
Paul Selar, Herald Sun, 19th October, 2018
Elena Xanthoudakis too excels in the bel canto repertoire and has already notched up notable successes in Melbourne Opera productions of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena. Her Desdemona is another outstanding performance and a reason in itself to rush off to buy a ticket. She has a great deal of taxing music to sing and she does so with apparent ease, tossing off the abundance of runs in a way that invests them with meaning rather than simply a vehicle for dazzling technical display. Clear diction in musically expressive extended passages of recitative, accurate intonation, a lovely warm rounded tone throughout the range and exciting spin on full top notes all contributed to a compelling interpretation. The final scene where she sings a “Willow Song” was a poignant contrast to Otello’s murderous jealous rage.
Heather Leviston, Classic Melbourne, 19th October, 2018
‘Elena Xanthoudakis excelled both vocally and dramatically, personifying Rossini and Berio di Salsa’s characterisation of Desdemona as a courageous woman in an impossible situation; it is in truth Desdemona’s opera. She performed Rossini’s demanding coloratura with consummate artistry, especially in the bravura display in the final scene of Act II. Her acting encompassed every nuance of this emotionally charged role, culminating in the lyrical intensity of Act III, with a superb rendition of the Willow Song as its centrepiece.’
Elizabeth Kertesz, Australian Book Review, 19th October, 2018
Bel canto soprano Elena Xanthoudakis returns to grace the Melbourne Opera stage, balancing passion and vulnerability in a fascinating performance as Desdemona. Required to perform in an extended state of agitated tension, Xanthoudakis maintains lovely vocal stability, with wonderful ornamentals throughout. “The Willow Song” is a truly lovely highlight, bringing the opera towards a moving close.
Simon Parris, Man in Chair, 18th October, 2018
‘But the undisputed star of the opera was Elena Xanthoudakis as Desdemona, her warm, luminous soprano voice navigating the demanding bel canto bravura passages with consummate ease. Ms Xanthoudakis perfectly portrayed Desdemona’s wronged innocence and the strength of her love for Otello. Her tireless singing shone in the ensembles; and the “Willow Song” aria, with simple and beautiful harp accompaniment, was a particular highlight.’
Alex Armstrong, Stage Whispers, October 2018
Elena Xanthoudakis – Desdemona. Xanthoudakis handles this demanding role with strength, ease and emotional energy. The principal performance of the Willows Song and her evening prayer is mesmerising, in captivated the audience, (you would have heard a pin drop), Desdemona’s interaction between Otello and Rodrigo becomes the glue and the catalyst between them.
It is always a pure delight to experience any performance from Xanthoudakis…..
George Dixon, Theatre People, 20th October, 2018
Elena Xanthoudakis – Desdemona Boyd Owen – Rodrigo
After Opening night there was a drink reception in the flyer attended by Australian Icon Barry Humphries:
Australian Icon Barry Humphries with the cast of Otello – Elena Xanthoudakis, Stephen Smith and Boyd Owen.
Elena is grateful to Melbourne Opera for the opportunity to perform so many NEW roles and the Australian
premieres of forgotten Bel Canto roles.