Otello Polish National Opera Hong Kong Cultural Centre grand theatre Final show tonight A stylish performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Otello by the Polish National Opera opened this year's Hong Kong Arts Festival. Verdi and librettist Arrigo Boito's adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy is one of the greatest operas, weaving music and words into a flow of tumultuous emotions. This production, directed by Mariusz Trelinski, offers a constructive new perspective on the piece, strongly complemented by the musicians' performances. Trelinski's production, however, is overwhelmingly dark in mood, with monotony in sets and costumes. Iago is clad in black, like a priest, recalling his famous Credo in Act II in which he expresses his belief in a 'cruel God'. Richard Decker's Otello has his face daubed in grey like a tribal aborigine, symbolising elemental passion and power. In the fourth, final act, when Otello enters Desdemona's bed chamber - intending to kill the wife he thinks unfaithful - black paint streams down a white backdrop, to harrowing effect. The monochromatic atmosphere is only temporarily lifted by the arrival of the Venetian envoys in Act III, in a sea of flaming red robes. Decker was expressive in Thursday night's opening show. He conquered the part's technical difficulties and conveyed the Moor's searing internal conflict vividly, though his tone lacked a certain ring. He and Izabella Klosinska's Desdemona sang with great pathos in the final scenes. She had a silky voice, especially in the high notes, but her heavy vibrato could be obtrusive. Adam Kruszewski's Iago was, however, disappointing. His demeanour suggested a stilted bureaucrat, not a scheming ensign, and his sing-acting lacked venom. Conductor Jacek Kaspszyk led the orchestra of the Polish National Opera to play with a verdant and powerful sound - especially the brass section, which was reinforced by local instrumentalists.