• Broadway Beat

Renée Fleming Cast in "Othello", Wondering Why It Has an "H", Where Music Is, Why It's in English

by Ivvone Zhou. @w451st.

WASHINGTON D.C. — In an exclusive interview with American opera star Renee Fleming, the diva expressed concerns that the production of Othello that she has been rehearsing might be the Shakespeare play and not the Verdi opera, Otello, that she thought it was.


“The first thing that tipped me off was the misspelling of ‘Otello’”, she confided. “But I thought it must be a repeated typo. Once we got into rehearsals, though, there were lots of little things that seemed suspicious to me, like how I never saw the musical score laying around, or the fact that I couldn’t find the rehearsal pianist. I had to hire one myself! By the second week I was getting suspicious that the English books we were reading from were more than just translations of the original Italian libretto.”


Overworked stage manager Lee Purcell gave his own observations about Fleming’s erratic behavior.


“We thought she was being, well, an opera diva when she insisted on warming up her voice with trills and scales,” noted Purcell. “Last Tuesday, she performed a twenty-minute-long scene in Italian from the last act, but Alan [Paul, director] just went along with it, so we figured it was just to help everyone gain a different perspective on the text. We now see that she was just very, very wrong.”


However, some of Fleming’s stars were aware of her confusion.


“Oh, I knew she thought we were doing an opera, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her,” admitted Frank Barbara, who plays Othello. “She sang that scene in the last act so beautifully that I just couldn’t, plus I made a bet with Patrick [Page, who plays Iago] that she would last more than two weeks before realizing it’s not the opera.”


At press time, Fleming assured us she wouldn’t drop out of the production, despite her own concerns that she would “have to learn a whole new language for this role.”