Verdi was all but retired when librettist Arrigo Boito gave him a pared-down, fat-free version of Shakespeare’s Othello (Boito even trimmed the H in the title). It inspired the composer to the highest peaks he’d yet reached in tragedy: his greatest love duet, greatest tenor/baritone duet, greatest soprano solo—the devastating “Willow Song” and “Ave Maria” that Desdemona sings just before Otello murders her. Yet there’s at least one good reason Seattle Opera hasn’t staged the piece since 1987: The title role is one of the most emotionally and vocally grueling tenor parts ever written. Your plan B is to see it as part of the opera broadcast series sponsored by Columbia City Cinema, in a 2008 Salzburg Festival performance with Riccardo Muti conducting. YouTube clips suggest it’s a pretty smoldering performance. GAVIN BORCHERT

Wednesdays, 4 & 7 p.m. Starts: Aug. 25. Continues through Sept. 29, 2010

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