Otello is a Muslim and several years senior to Desdemona, a Christian who defies her father and family to run away and marry the man she believes is her true love. Perhaps he should have known better, but he falls in love with the idea of her being in love with him. And then there’s Iago, the creature so unhappy in his own right that he spreads lies and dissension among those around him. As anyone who has read William Shakespeare’s Othello knows, this is not a happily-ever-after fairy tale.

Brought to life with gorgeous music by Giuseppe Verdi, the opera Otello remains a classic because of its strong themes and the opportunity it gives singers to shine. Soprano Ailyn Perez, who has won both the Tucker and the Domingo awards, is making her role and Houston Grand Opera debut as Desdemona, playing opposite tenor Simon O’Neill. “It’s not a beginner’s type of role. I’m very grateful it’s come at this time,” Perez said. Describing her character, Perez says: “She’s probably one of the most strikingly feminine women that I’ve ever interpreted in a very quiet way, in a very naive way.

“Desdemona is almost a silent heroine. She doesn’t come out with an aria. The only time she sings alone onstage is her ‘Ave Maria.’” It was a challenge to understand her, Perez readily admits. “She leaves her whole life up to destiny and wonders why she’s not understanding anything.” But still, Perez said, Desdemona is strong. “Her final lines are ‘I did this to myself.’ Otello, his passion and violence were still nothing in comparison to her.” HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers will conduct and John Cox of Covent Garden will return to direct.

7 p.m. October 24; 2 p.m. October 26; 7:30 p.m. November 1, 4 and 7. Wortham Center, 500 Texas. For information, call 713‑288‑6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $15 to $354.
Fri., Oct. 24, 7 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 26, 2 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m.; Tue., Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m., 2014

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing