Revivals

FALSTAFF
Giuseppe Verdi
1813 - 1901
Commedia lirica in three acts
Libretto by Arrigo Boito after William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597) and Henry IV (1597)
World premiere: February 9th 1893, La Scala Milan

Sung in Italian with German surtitles
Duration: 2 3/4 hours with one interval

About the piece

»God the Almighty is the creator of the sun, but man created the barrel«, wrote François Rabelais a good half a century before Sha ...
»God the Almighty is the creator of the sun, but man created the barrel«, wrote François Rabelais a good half a century before Shakespeare’s fat knight Sir John Falstaff. We have this French poet, who believed a smile was the best remedy for all ailments, to thank for the hedonistic type of good-for-nothings and boozers. But Falstaff, whose soul lives in the kitchen and passion in Venus’s lap, is not just a figure of fun. »I have not written opera buffa, I have portrayed a type of person«, said Verdi. Unfortunately the bourgeois community in Windsor did not appreciate this type at all and played mean tricks on the anti-social fatso. Nothing has changed: he who cannot enjoy consumption himself keeps an eye on it. But he who laughs last, laughs longest, as Falstaff shows us in the most famous fugue in operatic history. In the language of social philosophy today, the ideal of a society communicating perfectly in a humane world emerges at the end of Verdi’s last opera.
    The ensembles in Verdi’s commedia lirica are masterpieces, their metre and melodic motifs taken directly from the characters’ words. The orchestra joins in telling the story, playing a sometimes cynical, jolly game, with sighs, cheers and screams. It also fades away, along with the fatso’s dampened down fantasies when he is hungry, depicted by one cello and piccolo, to almost nothing. Identical love letters written to two wealthy women, plans of revenge, a dirty linen basket, wood elves, spirits and two young lovers are the ingredients in Verdi and Boito's successful comedy based on Shakespeare's comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. Pleasure loving Sir John Falstaff maintains that honour is only a concept, and one that by no means justifies the loss of a limb. The ensembles in Verdi’s commedia lirica are masterpieces, their metre and melodic motifs taken directly from the characters’ words. The score turns the orchestra into a commentator and illustrator - it's eye winking onomato-poetry plays witness to the sparkling wit of the creative soul behind it all. There is only one aria in Falstaff. Verdi doesn't take anything seriously any more. It feels as if the closing motto in the final fugue is hiding in every bar: everything in the world is a joke! This extremely successful production was directed by Shakespeare expert Keith Warner who understands the fine nuances needed for comedy.

Synopsis

Falstaff and his henchmen Bardolfo and Pistola live at other people's expense in the »Garter's Inn«. Dr Cajus blames Bardolfo and ...
Falstaff and his henchmen Bardolfo and Pistola live at other people's expense in the »Garter's Inn«. Dr Cajus blames Bardolfo and Pistola for getting him drunk and robbing him. Falstaff, hard up. plans to seduce Alice Ford and Meg Page and get his hands on their rich husbands' money. Alice and Meg receive identical love letters from him. They intend to turn the tables with help from Nannetta, Alice's daughter and Mistress Quickly. Bardolfo and Pistola, finding Falstaff's duplicity dishonourable, tell Ford about Falstaff's plot. Quickly gives Falstaff Alice's invitation to call on her that afternoon. Signor Fontana (Ford) arrivies, claiming to be in love with Alice and asking Falstaff to seduce her. If her virtue is conquered once then.... Ford flies into a jealous rage when Falstaff tells him that he already has a date with Alice. Falstaff's wooing of Alice is interrupted by Quickly announcing the arrival of Meg who warns that Ford is hurrying home. The joke falls flat: Ford really does appear hunting for his rival, who hides in the dirty linen... Quickly talks Falstaff into a second meeting with Alice – at midnight, with him disguised as the „Black Huntsman“. Alice prepares the forthcoming masquerade. Nannetta, the Fairy Queen, leads the spirits who mock and torment Falstaff, who repents before seeing through the masquerade. Ford is about to marry Cajus to the veiled Queen of the Fairies when Alice asks him to marry another couple as well. Cajus kisses his bride - Bardolfo in disguise - and Ford has to give his blessing to his daughter and Fenton.


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Performances

Friday 03.10.2014 19:30 h

Further performances

Opera House
Subscription: series 23

Pre-booking and Pricing

Cast

Conductor
Jonathan Darlington
Director
Keith Warner
Stage Designer
Boris Kudlička
Costume Designer
Kaspar Glarner
Lighting Designer
Davy Cunningham
Dramaturge
Norbert Abels
Chorus Master
Markus Ehmann

Sir John Falstaff
Jonathan Lemalu
Ford
Daniel Schmutzhard
Fenton
Martin Mitterrutzner
Nannetta
Sofia Fomina
Alice Ford
Sara Jakubiak
Meg Page
Maria Pantiukhova *
Mistress Quickley
Meredith Arwady
Dr. Cajus
Hans-Jürgen Lazar
Bardolfo
Beau Gibson
Pistola
Alfred Reiter

Oper Frankfurt's Orchestra and Chorus


* Member of the Opera Studio

 
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