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Uri Caine Ensemble: The Othello Syndrome

A 25-foot statue of Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi that stands at West 73rd Street and Broadway becomes the spiritual nexus of this fascinating new Uri Caine project. Taking his cue from Verdi’s Otello, the figure who faces eastward at the base of the sculpture, the fabled Moor of Venice serves as Caine’s thematic starting point. Stylistically, Caine has been far more audacious, deciding that if Verdi can stand amid all the musical crosscurrents of Manhattan, then his Otello can be similarly hybridized in its re-conception.

The result was presumably more coherent for the audience that saw the world premiere of Caine’s work in 2003 at the Biennale Festival in Venice, where Caine was the musical director. Italians who are suckled on the music of Verdi would no doubt catch the musical allusions to the operatic masterwork more readily, but non-Italians are less likely to comprehend the prime cuts from Arrigo Boito’s original libretto (spoken by Italian actor Marco Paolini) than the English by the poets and vocalists on Caine’s creative team, including Bunny Sigler, Sadiq Bey and Julie Patton.

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