Iago said, "We cannot all be masters," but he didn't see The Joffrey's OTHELLO (Photos)

April 30, 2013
Janet Arvia


Othello was the first full-length I introduced to the Joffrey in 2009,” states the company's Artistic Director Ashley Wheater, “and is certainly a masterwork of narrative dance in the new century.”

Indeed, the Joffrey is in fine form with its current production of Othello which combines Shakespeare’s classic cautionary tale of jealousy with Lar Lubovitch’s innovative choreography and Elliot Goldenthal’s exceptional score performed live by the Chicago Philharmonic, led by Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck.

Goldenthal, who received an Academy Award® and a Golden Globe® for Best Original Score for Frida, and Chicago-born Lubovitch who celebrates his 70th birthday this year, lend their talents to the ballet which was co-commissioned by the American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet in 1997.

Othello received its Joffrey and Chicago premiere in 2009, however the current production is the last time the company will perform the piece before it’s retired from active repertory. That means audiences only have until May 5 to see this masterwork in motion at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on 50 East Congress Parkway.

Told in three succinct acts—the second being the most dynamic—the story travels back to 16th century Venice via digital projections by Wendall K. Harrington, costumes by Ann Hould-Ward, and lighting design by Pat Collins. Unfortunately a couple plexiglass set pieces appear as dated as a few Madonna-esque Vogue moves. But these gestures are brief compared to the breadth of Lubovitch’s creative contribution that effectively blends modern dance with classical ballet.

Dylan Gutierrez is stunning in the title role with a stage presence as powerful as his lifts of Victoria Jaiani, who appears to effortlessly defy gravity as the doomed Desdemona. Similarly fragile and tragic, is the graceful Christine Rocas in the role of Emila. Temur Sulusashvili channels a Basil Rathbone-like Iago so villainous, he inspired boos from an exhilarated audience during the standing ovation.

Single tickets, which range from $31 to $152, are available by telephone at 800-982-2787 and online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit www.joffrey.org.