From May 4-19, the Connecticut Lyric Opera and the CT Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra will be presenting a thrilling production of Verdi’s “OTELLO” which will premiere on the 4th at New Britain’s Trinity-on-Main and proceed to New London’s Garde the 6th, Middletown High School the 11th and Naugatuck Valley College in Waterbury on the 19th. Director of these performances is none other than David Jaffe, a man of over 30 years of experience in the theater, as an actor, director and professor of acting and drama.
So, whose “OTELLO” is this? In the world’s largest international opera houses, so often one hears its “the Zeffirelli Otello”, or “the Domingo Otello” or “the Solti Otello” — ie the production dominated by a celebrity director, singer or conductor. Should there be any discrepancies over wardrobe, tempi, stage business, cuts, anything at all, star status rules. Often, it no longer becomes Verdi’s OTELLO, let alone Shakespeare’s! However, in smaller companies, the key word is “teamwork” — and it is this joint effort of director Jaffe, maestro Adrian Sylveen and a top notch cast of singers that promises to make these upcoming performances of this opera golden!
On April 26, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mr. Jaffe on his ideas for OTELLO and his colorful past in the theater world. A graduate of Conn. College in New London (1977), Jaffe was also a faculty member there in the theater department from 1989-1997. He performed for many years as an actor in regional theater companies such as Long Wharf, the Shakespeare Theater in Stratford and the Yale Rep, not to mention has had a distinguished career teaching as a professor of acting at Wesleyan University, Conn. College and the Eugene O,Neill Theater Center — plus, the directing! Here are some highlights of that conversation:
LK — “You are returning to the Conn. Lyric Opera I understand?”