Here's what ROSENBAUM has to say about OTHELLO:
LAWRENCE FRENCH: When they did the restoration on OTHELLO they actually went through the process of transcribing Francesco Lavagnino's score, when the original manuscript was apparently readily available for consultation in Italy.
JONATHAN ROSENBAUM: I know it, and members of Lavagnino's family were aghast with the result. I talked to his children and they said, "this is not my father's work." They actually were talking about suing over what was done to the music, because they were very pissed off, and I think they had good reason to be.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: It just shows how little research actually went into that restoration. Why bother to transcribe the score, if the composer's original manuscript could be consulted?
JONATHAN ROSENBAUM: They found a guy who works for the Chicago symphony, Michael Pendowski to do it, who I interviewed, but he was somebody who knew nothing about Lavagnino's music, or about Orson Welles. He only heard two or three mandolins on the soundtrack, so now there are only two mandolins, instead of forty. The same thing, or worse with the sound effects. Michael Anderegg in his book, Orson
Welles, Popular Culture and Shakespeare, has discovered even more outrages in OTHELLO. He has actually determined that for the new version, they got different actors to re-dub some of the lines. Really, it's just mutilation. However, I must say, that's also been done to some of the restorations they are doing in Munich. The other thing, which is worse, is that according to Beatrice and Thomas White, it's now illegal to show Welles' own version of OTHELLO in the United States. In Europe you can still get the Welles version on video. But when Criterion brought out Welles original version on laserdisc, Beatrice got very angry and said they couldn't make any more copies. So she's made her own father's version illegal to show, because she doesn't get any money for it. They only found out about the Criterion laserdisc, after the fact, otherwise it would have never come out. Something else that's very funny and ironic about the new version of OTHELLO. When I wrote about it, I talked about the Gregorian chants that were missing from the opening scene, which Julian Schlossberg had removed. It was actually Michael Dawson (who supervised the restoration) who told me that, but off the record, because the restoration had gotten out of his control and Dawson was very upset about what Schlossberg had done. So it was thanks to him I was able to expose that, and the Gregorian chanting got restored for the video release. In fact, I even got a call from Julian Schlossberg, who was very apologetic. But nobody even knows why they removed it. That was the one thing I was able to correct, but of course, nothing else.
Did you also know that in the American version of OTHELLO, the voice of Desdemona was not done by Susan Cloutier?
LAWRENCE FRENCH: No, I knew that the European version had credits spoken by Welles, but without his narration.
JONATHAN ROSENBAUM: Yes, what happened was before the film opened at Cannes in 1952, Welles had done a stage version of OTHELLO in London, with the actress Gudrun Ure playing Desdemona and Peter Finch as Iago. It was a different interpretation of the part, and a very different production. So for the American version of OTHELLO, Welles got Gunrun Ure to re-dub the part. It's amazing, because nobody knows that, except a friend of mine in France, Francois Thomas, who did a dissertation on Welles sound work. So everything you get on the credits is wrong, because Welles never told anyone about it, he just did it.