Saturday, February 16, 2013 on Ronald Samm as 'Otello': 'does not seem unduly overwhelmed by the difficult tessitura and has much of the required heft'

Ronald Samm, tenor, in title role of Verdi's Otello

Sergio Mims sends this link on the tenor Ronald Samm:

Verdi: Otello

Opera North
By Dominic McHugh
Photo: Clive Barda 

Leeds Grand Theatre, 17 January 2013 3 stars
Verdi’s lifelong project to reconcile the extremes of the national and the personal, the grand and the intimate, come to a head in his penultimate opera, Otello. His well-known passion for Shakespeare cannot have been the only motivation for his decision to return to composition with this piece: the internal tensions surrounding Otello’s sexual jealousy, Iago’s venom and Desdemona’s sacrifice are played within a tense political context, which is so much more than a mere spectacular backdrop. Everything is finely painted and psychologically vivid, yet also concise and direct; musically, the conventions of the genre are employed with strength, rather than constraining expression.
Ronald Samm has great stage presence but hasn’t yet developed his characterisation to depict Otello’s gradual unravelling. By making him nothing but a military brute from the start, it’s hard to see what Desdemona ever found attractive about his personality or why the Venetian powers hold him in such esteem or respect. On the other hand, Samm’s singing is mostly impressive in this Everest of roles; he lacks Italianate tone and style, which gets in the way of communicating the text, but he does not seem unduly overwhelmed by the difficult tessitura and has much of the required heft, an incredible achievement in itself. 

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