Otello | Barbican Hall, London | December 2009

“…the Act IV ‘Willow Song’ was an extremely poignant mixture of regret, sadness, and courage…Anne Schwanewilms’s Desdemona crossed herself at the end of the ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘expired’ in her seat to offer a final hint of the real drama of Verdi’s great tragedy.”


“…her ‘Willow Song’ was exquisite.”

The Times

“Desdemona’s purity and incorruptibility were perfectly evoked in the unearthly silvery soprano of Anne Schwanewilms…”


“Anne Schwanewilms was also unexpected casting as Desdemona – we know her from her outstanding interpretations of Germanic repertoire…However, she does know how to float high pianissimos and has the power needed for the Act Three finale. Dramatically she was extremely convincing, and her Act Four ‘Willow Song’ and ‘Ave Maria’ scene was profound.”


“Translucent-toned Anne Schwanewilms was cast a little against the Italianate ideal of Desdemona…Still, my old English master…would have approved her poise and sympathy. In short, she was a Pre-Raphaelite madonna rather than Verdi’s more fleshly Titian woman. You felt that if anyone could have willed this Otello to engage, she would have managed it…when making chamber music alone with Sir Colin and the LSO in the eerie twilight of the ‘Willow Song’ and the pure relief of the ‘Ave Maria.”


“Anne Schwanewilms is a great Straussian (when will we see her Marschallin at Covent Garden?)…The Act 3 ensemble was ravishing and Act 4 was simply sublime. Schwanewilms’s ‘Willow Song’ was utterly beautiful, with a still, concentrated sadness that only she among current sopranos can bring…”