Falstaff

Verdi Falstaff opera to a libretto by Arrigo Boito. Directed 2011 by Sven-Eric Bechtolf at the Opernhaus Zürich. Stars Ambrogio Maestri, Massimo Cavalletti, Javier Camarena, Patrizio Saudelli, Martin Zysset, Davide Fersini, Barbara Frittoli, Eva Liebau, Yvonne Naef, Judith Schmid, and Domenic Gloor. Daniele Gatti conducts the Orchestra of the Zurich Opera House, Chorus of the Zurich Opera House (Chorus Master Ernst Raffelsberger), and the Supernumeraries of the Zurich Opera House. Set design by Rolf Glittenberg; costume design by Marianne Glittenberg; lighting by Jürgen Hoffmann, Pascal Schmid, and Susane Saudan; sound supervised by Wilhelm Zürrer; produced and directed for TV by Feliz Breisach; released 2012, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B-

This is a good video of a decent production of this funny opera. Sound and picture quality are fine. The signers are probably a bit better than the competition in the Glyndebourne Falstaff HDVD. I  liked Barbara Frittoli as Alice Ford and Eva Liebau as Nannetta. But my favorite would be Javier Camarena singing Fenton. Camarena is a young man with an unbelievable sweet and clear voice that we don't hear enough.

But alas, the set, costumes, and directing are somewhat lackluster. I don't get the impression of any particular time and place, which is important, I think, in any situation comedy. Also, there is too much silliness in Acts 1 and 2 for my taste.

Act 3 is a bit like a second opera tacked onto the first opera in Acts 1 and 2. I liked the Zürich Act 3 better than the Glyndebourne Act 3. The final act opens with a soliloquy by Falstaff on the evils of the world. Maestri makes this sound pathetic, ironic, and ridiculous all at the same time---a deeply hilarious achievement. Then the attention shifts from Sir Falstaff to the love story of Nannetta and Fenton.  Liebau has a glorious aria in Track 5 ("Ninfe! Elfi! Silfi!") where the director also sets her up to look as beautiful as Giselle with her corps of maidens all dressed in white wedding gowns. This Act 3 was the last music Verdi wrote, and he finished with a spectacular display of virtuosity put fully on display in this Act 3. The next time I watch Falstaff, I might play Acts 1 and 2 from Glyndebourne and finish with the Act 3 from Zürich.