CLASSICAL MUSIC: Love, Death, Great Singing

With Placido Domingo in top form, a new Otello triumphs

Only a few weeks after the backstage sturm und drang of the Kathleen Battle affair, the Metropolitan Opera put an enthralling tempest where it belongs -- before an audience. The occasion was a spectacular new production of Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece Otello, in which astute direction, dazzling conducting and a first-rate cast led by Placido Domingo all combined to create a profound operatic experience.

From the opening storm to the final kiss, this Otello displays all the strengths of modern production technique. The previous version, by Franco Zeffirelli, had sets so detailed that they looked suitable for a CinemaScope film. With their...

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