Ballet Music from "Otello"

From Wind Repertory Project
Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi (trans. Donald Patterson)

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General Info

Year: 1887 / 2003
Duration: c. 6:05
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Keiser Southern Music, through Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Unknown   |   Score Only (print) - $29.50


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Giuseppe Verdi’s 1887 opera Otello saw its first performance sixteen years after the première of his preceding opera, Aida -- a point at which the composer had intended to retire from the theater. However, Verdi’s publisher in Milan, Giulio Ricordi, enticed him to begin work on a new opera, convinced that Verdi’s genius was not yet expended (and also concerned his profits would suffer without a new work from the preeminent composer).

Subsequent obstacles notwithstanding, Verdi embarked on a partnership with librettist Arrigo Boito and in 1884 set down the first notes of Otello, a work that is considered by many to be his greatest opera. Based on the play of the same name, it is not the first of William Shakespeare’s stage works to be adapted by Verdi; he also set Macbeth in 1847. The enormously successful première of Otello at La Scala was followed first by other productions within Italy, before receiving performances in New York (1888), London (1889), and finally Paris (1894). In keeping with nineteenth-century French tradition, Verdi added a ballet scene for the Parisian production of the opera. This dance music appears at the start of Act III, as the Venetian ambassadors enter the stage. While the ballet music appears on some recordings of the opera, it is rarely performed during modern productions.

Listening to the ballet scene, it is easy to envision the whirling Parisian dancers, regal costumes, and overall spectacle that enveloped the French première. The music is full of character, and begins in a celebratory spirit, brimming with lilting energy. A more somber second theme gives way to a frenzied section in 6/8 meter. Finally, the celebratory opening character returns and the music ends on a victorious note, seemingly oblivious to the tragedy that defines the rest of the opera.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 26 August 2021


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Jason K. Fettig, conductor) - 26 August 2021

Works for Winds by This Composer