Stage Door News

Toronto: The Canadian Opera Company presents Verdi’s “Otello” April 27-May 21

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Canadian Opera Company closes its 2018/2019 season with Otello, Verdi’s blistering adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. Otello seemingly has it all: an impressive military track record, an adoring wife, and a courageous reputation. But when he looks over his trusted advisor Iago for promotion, he becomes the target of swift retaliation. Posing as a concerned friend, Iago preys on the general’s insecurities, deftly planting seeds of doubt and steadily stoking the flames of blind rage, until Otello arrives at a devastating point of no return. Otello runs for eight performances on April 27, 30, May 3, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 2019

American tenor Russell Thomas returns to the COC, following successful performances in Norma and Carmen in 2016, for his role debut in a fully staged production as the title character. Thomas’ experience singing Otello in concert has shown him to be very well-equipped for the opera’s intense vocal demands with the San Francisco Classical Voice calling him a “heroically-scaled tenor” with a voice that is a “tower of strength.” Distinguished Canadian baritone Gerald Finley is the villainous Iago; he returns to the COC after his widely praised role in 2014’s Falstaff. Soprano Tamara Wilson is Otello’s wife, Desdemona; Wilson has been heralded by The New York Times as “a young American who sings Verdi with a passion that surpasses stereotype.” Canadian tenor and Ensemble Studio graduate Andrew Haji brings his “honeyed sound and heart” (NOW Magazine) to the role of the young lieutenant Cassio. Fellow Ensemble Studio graduate and Canadian tenor Owen McCausland adds his “clear coloratura” (The Globe and Mail) to the role of Roderigo; “sweet-toned” (New York Times) Canadian mezzo-soprano Carolyn Sproule is Emilia; Turkish bass Önay Köse takes on the role of Lodovico; and American bass-baritone Brandon Cedel completes the cast as Montano and the Herald.

Prolific theatre director David Alden reunites with set and costume designer Jon Morrell (Maometto II, 2016) for this production that was hailed as “flawless” (The Independent) when first presented at English National Opera in 2014. Here, the story’s setting has been moved to a crumbling Mediterranean garrison, in the early 20th century. In keeping with the spirit of Verdi’s original creation, the production takes a largely psychological approach, zeroing in on Otello’s inner turmoil over the external influence of other people and circumstance. Ian Rutherford joins the team as associate director and Adam Silverman designs the opera’s dramatic lighting.

COC Music Director Johannes Debus leads the COC Orchestra through what is known as one of Verdi’s most daring and complex orchestrations. Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst leads the COC Chorus.

Otello is sung in Italian and presented by the COC with English SURTITLES™.

This production was originally created as a co-production between English National Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, and Teatro Real Madrid. 


Russell Thomas
Gerard Finley
Tamara Wilson
Andrew Haji
Carolyn Sproule
Owen McCausland
Önay Köse
Montano / Herald
Brandon Cedel

Johannes Debus
David Alden
Associate Director
Ian Rutherford
Maxine Braham
Set & Costume Designer
Jon Morrell
Original Lighting Designer
Adam Silverman
Revival Lighting Designer
Andrew Cutbush
Price Family Chorus Master
Sandra Horst


Single tickets for Otello range from $35 – $250 with Grand Ring seats available at $290 and $350. Tickets are on sale now, available online at, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.). For more information on specially priced tickets available to young people under the age of 15, standing room, Opera Under 30, student groups and rush seating, visit

Photo: Russell Thomas as Otello. © 2018 Clive Barda.