Big Hit

This weekend the LA Opera presented three works: Verdi’s “Otello,” and two one-act operas, Ullmann’s “The Broken Jug” and Zemlinsky’s “The Dwarf,” which are part of the “Recoverd Voices” project, devoted to works suppressed by the Nazis.

“The Dwarf” was by far the weekend’s highlight, and this long-forgotten tragedy, presented here in its West Coast premiere, is much bigger than its obscurity would suggest.

For “Otello,” the combination of a beauty-deprived score by Verdi, unexciting production values, and an emotionless portrayal of the tragic hero by Ian Storey, made this telling of Shakespeare’s tragedy considerably less engrossing than American Ballet Theater’s voiceless version we attended last summer.

“The Broken Jug” opened with swirling melodies and a clever ballet scene set in silhouette behind a scrim, then fell into passable material perhaps overhyped because of its previous suppression.

But “The Dwarf,” loosely based on a short story by Oscar Wilde and written in a Richard Strauss-type idiom full of dramatic intensity, proved a giant of emotional pathos, earning Rodrick Dixon (pictured) an enthusiastic and much-deserved standing ovation. The only people who rose for “Otello” were heading to the parking garage.

If your ticket budget only allows for one show this month, you may be tempted to opt for the titanic pairing of Verdi and Shakespeare over two unknown composers. That would be the wrong choice. — CMC

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