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The Milan "Otello" traditionally opens the Scala season and did so in 2001 on 7 December, but at the same time it was the farewell production before the start of the three-year renovation of the house and not least a brilliant end to the Verdi Year. The audience as well as the press cheered Barbara Frittoli as a youthfully charming Desdemona, Leo Nucci as cleverly self-controlled Iago and Plácido Domingo as a thrilling Otello, both from the dramatic and the singing point of view. Domingo had been the leading Moro di Venezi for a quarter of a century, and in Milan he said farewell to this role - "in triumph", according to 'The Herald Tribune'. Graham Vick's direction, which treats the emotional drama of the protagonists in a sensitive rather than sensationalist way, no doubt contributed in great measure to the success of this production. The cylindrical uniform stage set by Ezio Frigerio emphasised the hopeless consequence of the tragedy, as did the Orchestra della Scala, which, under the baton of Riccardo Muti, never sacrifi ced the dark, disturbing elements of the score to the rich melodious sound. Moreover, Muti deviated from the traditional performance in that he fell back on Verdi's dramatically accentuated version of the finale of the 3rd act, which he wrote for Paris in 1894.