When Giuseppe Verdi's opera Otello first opened on 5th February 1887, it was the great tenor Francesco Tamagno who took the lead role. Here he is in 1903, two years after Verdi's death and two years before his own, singing the death scene of Othello, "Niun Mi Tema". It is worth listening to the very end to catch the strange groan, which we can only assume is Tamagno bringing some theatrical drama of a death throe to the recording (made at Thomas Edison's Menlo Park). That, or he's just remembered something rather terribly important he forgot to do.
February 9, 2017