Tuesday, November 25, 2003

[11/25/2011] Preview: Verdi's Jago -- "I believe in a cruel God who created me in his image" (continued)


VERDI: Otello (in English): Act II, Orchestral introduction; Iago, "Don't give up hope" . . . "Take it" . . . "Yes, I believe in a God who has created me like himself, cruel"
A ground-floor apartment in the castle. Through a window a large garden is seen. A balcony. IAGO on this side of the balcony, CASSIO on the garden side.

IAGO: Don't give up hope. But trust in me, and soon
we shall see you return to win the flighty favors
of Monna Bianca, once more a gallant captain,
wearing your golden-hilted sword beside you.
CASSIO: Do not deceive me . . .
IAGO: Attend to what I tell you.
Surely you know that Desdemona commands our
noble commander, she's the sun he lives by.
All you must do is beg that generous lady
to plead for Cassio, then you will soon be pardoned.
CASSIO: But how can I approach her?
IAGO: It is her wont to
walk every afternoon under that arbor
with my good wife Emilia. So there await her.
Now I've shown you the way to your salvation;
take it.
[CASSIO moves away. IAGO alone.]
IAGO [gazing after CASSIO]: Take it; take the path to your ruin.
Your evil genius drives you, your evil genius Iago,
and I am driven onward by that relentless cruel
God I believe in.
[Moving away from the balcony, no longer looking at CASSIO, who disappears through the trees.]
Yes, I believe in a God who has created
me like himself; cruel and vile he made me.
Born from some spawn of nature or from an atom,
born into vileness.
So I am evil
because I'm human;
primeval slime has left its vileness in me.
Yes! This is my belief!
Yes, for I believe, just as the credulous
widow in church believes in God,
that all the evil that I do is destined,
fate alone directs me.
Man says he's honest, he is a clowning actor
in his face and his heart;
for all he does is falsehood:
charity, kissing, kindness,
and his striving's in vain.
Yes, I believe man is the fool of fortune;
the cradle holds an infant
who's born to feed the worm.
Then, after life's deluded course, comes Death.
And then? And then, there's nothing.
And Heaven's a foolish tale.
-- singing translation by Andrew Porter
Neil Howlett (b), Iago; Bonaventura Bottone (t), Cassio; English National Opera Orchestra, Mark Elder, cond. EMI/Chandos, recorded live, January 1983 [audio link]

. . .

Earlier, you'll recall (from either Shakespeare or Verdi-Boito), Jago has gotten Otello's second-in-command, Cassio, liquored up during the celebration of the great naval triumph over the Turks, then prodded him into making a drunken fool of himself, leading to his summary demotion in Jago's favor. Poor Cassio, though, is just a pawn in Jago's scheme to destroy Otello.

During the '50s and early '60s Tito Gobbi sang Jago all over the damned place. I like the performance from the Japanese video soundtrack, but as a late addition, for its superior sound, I decided to double up with the Rome studio recording made the following year.

VERDI: Otello: Act II, Orchestral introduction; Jago, "Non ti crucciar" . . . "Vanne" . . . "Credo in un Dio crudel"
[for English texts, see Andrew Porter's singing translation above]
Tito Gobbi (b), Jago; Mariano Caruso (t), Cassio; NHK Symphony Orchestra, Alberto Erede, cond. Telecast performance, recorded live, Feb. 4, 1959 [audio link]
Tito Gobbi (b), Jago; Florindo Andreolli (t), Cassio; Rome Opera Orchestra, Tullio Serafin, cond. RCA/BMG, recorded July-Aug. 1960 [audio link]


Surprise! We're going to take a closer look at the "Credo."


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