Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Music:Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto:Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare's Othello
Premiere:Milan, February 5, 1887

Although Verdi planned to retire from composing, he was tempted by Boito's libretto to write the score for Otello, which has remained popular since its first glorious success. As the tragedy opens, the triumphant Venetian general Othello returns to port, braving a furious storm, and is joyfully reunited with his wife, Desdemona. But the jealous ensign lago schemes with Roderigo, who also loves Desdemona, to undermine Othello's victory. Iago orchestrates the downfall of Cassio, Othello's trusted lieutenant, and then suggests to Cassio that he turn to Desdemona for support. When Desdemona pleads Cassio's case, Othello becomes suspicious, and Iago's further ruses convince the general that his wife is unfaithful. Desdemona's denials are in vain, and as Othello's admirers unknowingly pay tribute to their hero, he smothers his wife in bed. Moments later, discovering that Iago is the true villain, he drives his sword through his own breast in despair.

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