Original Soundtrack

Orson Welles' Othello [The Original Motion Picture Score]

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Orson Welles' Othello was originally released in 1952 and won the best picture award at the Cannes film festival. However, the film was considered lost for nearly 50 years. Generations of film fans had only been able to see a terribly dubbed 16 mm version with poor sound and muddy visuals. In 1992 a restored version was released, which returned the picture to a pristine level. Restoring the soundtrack proved to be a difficult challenge, because Welles had never remixed the music with a good crew. The 45-minute original motion picture soundtrack to Othello was released by Varese in 1992, and was performed by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Lyric Opera. The original music was credited to Francesco Lavagnino and Alberto Barberis, and offers an interesting mix of medieval and modernistic music. One standout track in particular, "The Proclamation/Deceiving Rodrigo," mixes a festive, Elizabethan melody with an exotic rhythm similar to Henry Mancini's work on Touch of Evil. Famous Welles biographer James Naremore rightly claims that the new version of the soundtrack expertly captures the dramatic conflict of the classic Shakespeare play. The overall mood is similar to a horror movie, and the propulsive rhythms, haunting choral chants, and ominous North African accents create a supernatural and terrifying masterpiece.

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