The fact that artists going on stage – no matter in which theatre genre – voluntarily let other people assess them is obvious. And they always – being more or less anxious – wait for the reaction of the audience after the performance, and then for what theatre and music reviewers will write about them. The fact that they do not always agree with these assessments is another matter. It is also not uncommon – although not always loud and official – that colleagues on the stage ‘review’ their colleagues who have just ‘had a free time’.
After the premiere of Othello by Verdi on 5 February 1887, the American singer Blanche Roosevelt allowed herself to express her opinion:
The orchestra began with strong chords, which signalled a storm. The curtain was immediately lifted. The scenery of the stage, costumes, choir and orchestra were almost perfect; the cast was certainly weak. Victor Maurel is the only real artist in the opera and he is French. When it comes to singing, acting, appearance and costumes, he is the perfect picture of what a real opera singer should be, and he is the perfect picture of an opera Jagon. Tamagno, the tenor acted and looked like Othello, but he was not singing – he was crying! Madame Pantaleoni is an excellent person, but she should have been reassigned to Desdemona at the general rehearsal. Her voice is delicate and dramatic, but she knows as much about the real art of singing as I know about astronomy…
Only the audience of this performance really knew how it was, however it was probably not so bad since the premiere of Othello was another great triumph for Verdi, the ovations were endless and the composer himself had to appear on stage twenty times in the final!
And since the objectivity of the reviewers and colleagues can be very varied, this is
a completely different matter.
After all, it is still the audience that decides how long a given title remains in the repertoire! Fortunately 😉
Othello and Desdemona, author: Antonio Muñoz Degraín, 1880.The painting is in the Chiado Museum, Lisbon, Portugal