Guildford Opera  : Cast Details, Reviews, and Images

Surrey Advertiser Review

Verdi’s Otello is widely regarded as a master piece and a supreme example of operatic art. The Libretto (by Boito) and score range from the lyrical through to the darkly dramatic. The dramatic begins immediately. A storm opens Act 1 with the score replicating thunder and lightening, offering both brass and percussion maximum opportunity for impact.
I gasped at the excitement of sound musical Director Francis Griffin was conducting and shaping, something phenomenal.
Less impressive was the opening male chorus- it was decidedly thin– but rescued from the storm by the women’s chorus that soared into competence and filled the auditorium in an effortless manner,
Otello is a tale of innocence, passion and murderous jealousy. It offers massive scope to the principals who grasped the chance with varying degrees of success. Grand Opera (and this is indeed Grand) has an enviable sweep and majesty but The Electric Theatre in Guildford offers a closer intimacy.The “big gesture” is at odds with the location and I suspect stage director, Jackie Shearer with limited rehearsal time fought hard to successfully blend both. Vocally the effect was always satisfying but occasionally a principal’s physical interpretation seemed to me over the top - the Electric audience is much closer than many others. In this production James Kinsella, as Otello the Moorish General appeared to me, as an audience member, to be devoid of his North African ethnicity and given doublet and hose, a distinct Venetian persona. However, Kinsella had presence and authority and an enviable diction that paced out his descent into sexual paranoia
Jonathan Barry as the malevolent Iago whispered, stooped, fawned, and cringed in successive acts thoroughly earning “his hiss and boo” curtain call.
Cassio, as played by Mattius Lower, was a swaggering captain of the guard and although his duel with Montano lacked a degree of bravado (and skill) the moment was quickly absorbed and we moved on.
Cara McHardy (Desdemona) was seen to particular advantage in Act 4, filled with foreboding she prepares for sleep but mistakes the wind for an intruder. The orchestra, together with her interpretation, jointly builds to a fortissimo that mirrors her own and our anxieties, We know she is about to be murdered, but when? The intensity lessens with the return of Iago’s wife, Emilia (Liezel Brink-McCulloch) and a haunting repetition of The Willow Song but that relief is short.
Otello was an ambitious production for Guildford Opera in its Fortieth Year and the loud and sustained applause -I also heard cheers - indicated to me It brought pleasure and pride to its supporters. It was a sell out performance, I was pleased to be there and to share the evening.

Jeff Thomson
Otello - Giuseppe Verdi

Esme Baker, Patrick Cambridge, Jody Coe, Margaret Cox, Harry Evans, Graham Fisher, Jean Gooding, Roger Griffiths, Ted Hart, Joan Hounsome, Marion Hughes, Alan Knight, Sheila Knight, Amanda Leader, Glenys Magill, Peter Melville, Roy Miles, Evelyn Morgan, Clive Perry, Joan Robinson, Rita Rowland,
Ming Rutherford, Sue Smith,Sue Squirrell, Eligio Tiangga, Gill Tarryer, Sue Tilling.


Venetian army General, a Moor

James Kinsella


Othello’s wife

Cara McHardy


An Ensign

Jonathan Barry


A Platoon Leader

Mattias Lower


Iago’s wife

Liezel Brink-McCulloch


A Venetian gentleman

Richard Johnson


Venetian Ambassador

James Davis


Former Governor of Cyprus

Nigel Evans-Thompson


Graham Fisher

Violin 1
Violin 2
Horn 1
Horn 2
Bass Drum
Tina Bowles(Leader)
Lawrence Lea
Jane Postlethwaite
Jayne Spencer
Ryan Smith
Elizabeth Cutts
Sara Grint
Tracey Thurlow
Olwen Griffin
Jonathan Wood
Alistair Smith
Patrick Dodds
Kevin John

Musical Director

Francis Griffin

Stage Director

Jackie Shearer