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Cleveland Orchestra tuning up for first full season in 2 years

The orchestra's first opera offering since the COVID lockdown will be the Verdi production 'Otello.'

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Even on this brisk spring day, there are signs things are warming up.

It's not only the temperatures outside that are rising. The Cleveland Orchestra is warming up, too.

"This is our first opera production since before COVID," Vice President for Artistic Planning Ilya Gidalevich says, "so we really haven't had a chance to do something like this."

That something is the Verdi opera "Otello." Layered within "Otello's" action is a storyline driven by characters who feel isolated from those around them. Its action and intrigue present a microcosm of divisions that continue to disrupt and affect human society today—of ethnic minorities and the privileged elite, of betraying enemies masquerading as loyal friends, of misunderstanding between a caring spouse and jealous lover, of secrets held and truth mislaid, of machinations and deceit played for political advantage.

"There's so many moving parts, you know there's and entire roster of singers," Gidalevich said. "There's a choir behind me, a children's choir, a lot of off-stage instruments happening. It's a huge production, and it's wonderful to be able to do this again."

There's action, intrigue, passion, and if you don't understand Italian, subtitles! The cast of "Otello" singers features tenor Limmie Pulliam making his Cleveland Orchestra debut as the title character, soprano Tamara Wilson (Desdemona), baritone Christopher Maltman (Iago), mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano (Emilia), and bass tenor Raymond Aceto (Lodovido). Tenors Pene Pati (Cassio) and Owen McCausland (Roderigo) will also be making their first appearances with the orchestra, as will baritone Kidon Choi (Montano & The Herald).

"All in all, an exciting evening," Gidalevich promised.

Kicking off the music season in a big way, performances will take place May 21, 26, and 29 at Severance Hall. You can purchase tickets here.

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