Falstaff

Verdi Falstaff opera to libretto by Arrigo Boito. Directed 2013 by Damiano Michieletto at the Strasburg Festival (Haus für Mozart). Stars Ambrogio Maestri (Sir John Falstaff), Fiorenza Cedolins (Mrs. Alice Ford), Massimo Cavalletti (Ford), Eleonora Buratto (Nannetta), Javier Camarena (Fenton), Elisabeth Kulmann (Mrs. [or Mistress] Quickly), Stephanie Houtzeel (Mrs. Meg Page), Luca Casalin (Dottore Cajus), Gianluca Sorrentino (Bardolfo), and David Fersini (Pistola). Zubin Mehta conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Philharmonia Chor Wien (Chorus Master Walter Zeh). Video direction by Karina Fibich. Released in 2014, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Verdi was considered old when he wrote Falstaff at age 79 (that doesn't seem so old now to me). Verdi, a philanthropist, was then also working on plans for Casa Verdi, a retirement home for musicians, which is still operating today. According to Anthony Tommasini writing in the New York Times after seeing the stage production at Salzburg, director Michieletto came up with the idea of setting the action in Casa Verdi. A set was designed that one would recognize as the main sitting room at Casa Verdi, and some of the actual tenants of Casa Verdi (many no doubt stage artists when younger) had bit parts in the production. The change in location from an inn with a tavern to a kind of hospital meant many changes in the libretto, but apparently it all worked out well. Tommasini also praised all the singers and the orchestra (Maestri had previously sung Falstaff in 18 productions). Lets hope the HDVD recording is as good as the production seems to have been.

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