Friday, December 12, 2014

Falstaff in Florence

Direttore: Zubin Mehta
Regia: Luca Ronconi
Scene: Tiziano Santi

Sir John Falstaff: Ambrogio Maestri
Fenton: Yijie Shi
Ford, marito d'Alice: Roberto De Candia
Mrs. Alice Ford: Eva Mei
Nannetta, figlia d'Alice: Ekaterina Sadovnikova
Mrs. Quickly: Elena Zilio
Mrs. Meg Page: Laura Polverelli
Bardolfo: Gianluca Sorrentino
Pistola: Mario Luperi
Dr. Cajus: Carlo Bosi

We wanted very much to see the new opera house in Florence, so we booked ourselves for Falstaff in Florence on Tuesday.  We thought we would see Roberto De Candia as Falstaff until the replacement with Ambrogio Maestri was announced. 

I included the picture above to give you an idea of the production.  This is from the second scene where the ladies have received their letters and are planning their revenge.  It is possible to interpret this production as Falstaff's dream.  It begins with him in bed and ends the same way.  He is lying in bed when the oak tree descends to hang over the bed.

There is a flock of geese on the stage at one point, stuffed, of course.  Then later the women pluck at the feathers on the geese.  Chi e?

Maestri is huge, just as Sir John needs to be.  He sings huge as well.  Perhaps you might be impressed with his enormous size after all.  He is glorious.

I enjoyed very much the "reverenza" of Mrs. Quickly.  My only complaint about the ladies was that their costumes were too similar to be able to distinguish them.  Nannetta was also lovely with a very nice high pianissimo.

It is good to hear Verdi in Italy.  It is an endless surprise.  In Falstaff the violins played with an almost constant leggiero technique, making it truly sound like a buffa opera.  That means they played with the sense of tiny spaces between the notes, creating an atmosphere of lightness and frivolity.  People constantly talk about late Verdi resembling Wagner to the point that our orchestras then play it as though it actually were Wagner.  All Verdi is still Italian, and it might be well for us to remember it on occasion.  Kudos to Maestro Mehta.

It was difficult to tell if the theater was completely finished.  The production did not require any elaborate stage machinery.  Our one complaint was that in the balcony a thin line of steel runs across the middle of one's view of the stage. 

Go see some Verdi in Italy.

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