By Guiseppe Verdi. His Majesty's Theatre, Perth WA. Feb 4-11, 2014.

The West Australian Opera presented Verdi's Otello as part of the Perth International Arts Festival. This co-production with Cape Town Opera, New Zealand Opera, Opera Queensland, State Opera of South Australia and Victorian Opera features the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and The West Australian Opera Chorus with guests from the Cape Town Opera Chorus. The cast is renewed in each location.

This is the first time that Verdi's Otello has ever been performed in Perth and this was a worthy debut. This production sets the whole story aboard an aircraft carrier, a strong visual reminder that Otello is a soldier, recently returned from active service. The setting is stunning and the military costuming and presentation is beautifully executed.

Musically, Otello is superb. The West Australian Opera chorus is beautifully co-ordinated and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra seemed faultless. Vocally the leads are amazing. Italian tenor, Antonello Palombi is a strong, troubled Otello, Cheryl Barker, reprising the role she played in this production for Opera Queensland is breathtaking as Desdemona. James Clayton is captivatingly evil as Iago, while Fiona Campbell is lovely as Emilia. The quartet with these four performers, was simply excellent.

Henry Choo was outstanding and really likeable as Cassio, with strong support provided by Matthew Lester as Roderigo, Andrew Collis as Lodovico, Andrew Foote as Montano and David Dockery as the Herald.

A visually stunning production with the military precision providing a stark contrasts to the highly emotive Italian opera style. Musically this is just beautiful.

Kimberley Shaw

Photographer: James Rogers

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