Opera North have kicked off this Verdi bicentenary year in grand style.
This powerful and stylish production of the great man's last major work is, as is so usual these days, presented in modern dress and the setting is a US naval base rather than Cyprus.
While this adds little to Shakespeare's tale of mixed-race love and jealousy, neither does it interfere with the main flow of its narrative.
In this, the production is aided by the towering performance of Ronald Samm in the title role.
Not since my blood was chilled by Paul Robeson's performance of the Shakespeare play at Stratford more than 50 years ago have I experienced such tragic power - far stronger than any of the blacked-up white men who have also played the role, not excluding Laurence Olivier in the 1965 film.
I wish I could say the same of David Kempster, whose Iago does not really convey the evil of Otello's wily lieutenant.
Though his singing is never less than great, even in his Nietzschian "Credo in un Dio crudel" (I believe in a cruel God) soliloquy in Act II he comes across more as an ordinary guy caught up in bureaucratic red tape than the obsessive plotter that is this villain's true character.
Verdi toyed with the idea of entitling the opera Desdemona because it is in many ways her story rather than Otello's and it's true that as a character she dominates the final act.
The role is well served by Elena Kelessidi, though even she could not make her brief return to life credible for a few final notes after having been supposedly suffocated by her husband.
Musically, Verdi was exploring new ways of orchestral form at the end of his composing career and the enthusiasm with which his innovations were greeted at its La Scala premiere in 1887, with 20 curtain calls, explodes the myth that the avant garde is always unappreciated by the masses.
The production is well served by the Opera North orchestra under Richard Farnes. Every nuance of the score, from the brassy storm in the opening scene to the low clarinet trills under Iago's Act II affirmation of evil, served to make this truly a night of music theatre to remember.
Runs until February 16, box office: (0844) 848-2700, then tours nationally www.operanorth.co.uk.