Melbourne Opera proudly presents the Australian premiere of Rossini’s dramatic masterpiece Otello, written a few months after The Barber of Seville in 1816.

This new production, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death, will be directed by the legendary film and opera director Bruce Beresford, conducted by Greg Hocking and Raymond Lawrence and sung in a new English translation by Geoffrey Harris.

Rossini’s Otello features no less than 6 demanding tenor roles.  Melbourne Opera has gathered an all star cast Australian cast led by Stephen Smith in the demanding title role, with popular international soprano Elena Xanthoudakis returning to debut as Desdemona.  Other cast members include Henry Choo, Boyd Owen, Jason Wasley, Roger Howell and Michael Dimovski.

Rossini’s Otello is immensely influential in the history of opera as, particularly in the 3rd act (the murder of Desdemona), Rossini breaks new ground in operatic drama and sets the stage for Bellini ,Donizetti and early Verdi.  The score is packed with exciting ensembles arias and duets featuring duelling tenors.  This is an important premiere and builds on Melbourne Opera’s outstanding reputation in bel canto opera.

Photo Collection

Captured at the Athenaeum Theatre, October 2018

Video Collection

Interviews with the Director and cast members


Don’t just take it from us, let the critics do the talking!


Xanthoudakis soars in Australian premiere of Rossini’s rare Otello

The Age

Balancing passion and vulnerability [Elena Xanthoudakis] gives a fascinating performance as Desdemona …Stephen Smith went on give a smouldering portrayal of a man near crazed with jealousy… Henry Choo is in excellent voice as the self-serving Iago… Possessing a pure and thrilling tenor voice, Boyd Owen sings Rodrigo with great flair

Simon Parris

The undisputed star of the opera was Elena Xanthoudakis as Desdemona, her warm, luminous soprano voice navigating the demanding bel canto bravura passages with consummate ease. Ms Xanthoudakis perfectly portrayed Desdemona’s wronged innocence and the strength of her love for Otello. Her tireless singing shone in the ensembles; and the “Willow Song” aria, with simple and beautiful harp accompaniment, was a particular highlight.

Stage Whispers

[Elena Xanthoudakis] Desdemona is another outstanding performance and a reason in itself to rush off to buy a ticket… [Stephen Smith] possesses a rich, vibrant tenor voice, suitably more powerful and darker in colour than those around him… Boyd Owen was exceptionally impressive in respect of the range of his attractive, virile tenor voice.

Classic Melbourne

It is a real treat to hear an opera of this era in the intimate and historic surroundings of the Athenaeum Theatre… Astute casting of the three main tenor roles – Otello, Rodrigo, and Iago, and the two mezzo soprano principals, Desdemona and Emilia – offered pleasing contrasts of vocal timbre and stage presence. 4 Stars.

Australian Book Review

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