Designing costumes for Othello, in whatever form -- play, ballet or opera, presents a few problems from the outset. First, of course, is the necessity for the costume to enhance the feeling of paranoia of Othello, a Moor in a Caucasian society. Second, Iago needs to be malevolent without being evil personified; he is, perhaps, simply overly worldly and overly ambitious, as is his wife, Emily. And third, Desdemona has to be understandable in the context of her own time, and of ours. While it may have been usual then for a woman to trust even when reason would tell her not to, it isn't so today.
A look at historical accuracy is necessary to see whether the costumes do their job properly in four very different productions of Othello/Otello: the San Francisco Ballet's production with music by Elliott Goldenthal; the English National Opera production conducted by Mark...
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