Internet Shakespeare Editions

Shakespeare in Performance: Film

Otello (1948, Burke Crotty)

Release LocationsUSA
DirectorBurke Crotty
Length4 hrs
Play ConnectionsOthello (opera)


Of prime interest because this may well have been the first televised performance of any Shakespearean drama, derivative or otherwise, in North America. The British had already begun transmitting Shakespearean drama as early as 1937 but television programming in the United States without direct government support had lagged somewhat. True enough, this was Verdi's opera not the play itself but televising it live from the Metropolitan Opera House presented the same difficulties as transmitting any stage presentation live from a theatre. The ABC television network needed to light the mise en scène without destroying the illusion of darkness called for by the action on stage. The technicians solved the problem with an infra-red lamp invisible to the naked eye. For the sound they simply hooked up the equipment for the regular Saturday afternoon radio broadcast from the Metropolitan. Four cameras, two at stage level and two in the grand tier, plus the expenditure of $35,000 completed the arrangements ("TV Goes to the Met," Newsweek 32 [13 Dec. 1948]: 55-57)

Description from Shakespeare on Screen : an International Filmography and Videography by Kenneth S. Rothwell and Annabelle Henkin Melzer. ©1990 Kenneth S. Rothwell. Cited by permission. — Added 2008-11-14

Cast Overview

OthelloRamon Vinay
IagoLeonard Warren
DesdemonaLicia Albanese

Production Team and Crew Overview

DirectorBurke Crotty
ComposerGiuseppe Verdi
ConductorFritz Busch

Company Overview

Producer ABC
Producer Metropolitan Opera
Producer Texaco

Production information courtesy of: Kenneth Rothwell