Boito's libretto for Verdi's Otello is not just an adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello but a radical transformation, particularly in its treatment of love and religion. In the opera, religious language is used to exalt love. In the play the link is ironic, as Othello's jealousy becomes a perverted religion. Boito gives Otello and Desdemona a closer, more harmonious relationship than Shakespeare does, turning Othello's public speech about the birth of their love into a private duet for the lovers. While Shakespeare's religious references are mostly scattered and ad hoc, Boito creates a formal public celebration of Desdemona using Catholic imagery. Elsewhere Catholic forms are turned to personal ends, in Iago's parody of the Credo and Desdemona's transformation of the Ave Maria. In general the opera is more personal and intimate than the play.


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pp. 836-849
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