Giuseppe Verdi

Falstaff

Opera

Falstaff is Giuseppe Verdi’s last opera. With it, the aged composer once again tried his hand at comic opera, a genre that he had not touched since his failed opera Un giorno di regno nearly 50 years earlier. Falstaff was premièred in 1893 at La Scala Milan just a few weeks before the première of the first truly resounding success by the young Giacomo Puccini, Manon Lescaut. Thus a kind of compositional transfer to the next generation had taken place. The opera tells the story of the corpulent, down-at-heel knight Falstaff, who hopes for both amorous and financial reward from two married ladies. He courts them clumsily and is ultimately led a merry dance by them. The opera ends with a colossal fugue that has gone down in music history, summing up in music the lesson learned from the work: everything in the world’s a jest. The current new production by Sir David McVicar premièred in December 2016 under the baton of Zubin Mehta.

25 January 2019
Friday
1 intermission
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Cast | 25.01.2019

Conductor James Conlon
Director David McVicar
Set design Charles Edwards
Costumes Gabrielle Dalton
Lighting Paul Keogan
Movement director Leah Hausman
 
Falstaff Carlos Álvarez
Ford Simon Keenlyside
Fenton Jinxu Xiahou
Alice Ford Olga Bezsmertna
Nannetta Hila Fahima
Mrs. Quickly Monika Bohinec
 

Details

The corpulent Sir John Falstaff has no money left to pay his bills at the Garter Inn where he resides. Convinced that he absolutely irresistible to the female sex, he resolves to make a virtue of necessity. He writes two identical love letters to Alice Ford and Meg Page, two prosperous citizens of Windsor, asking them to keep a tryst with him. The ladies are merely amused by the advances of the fat drunkard, and together they hatch a plan to make a fool of Falstaff. They send Mrs. Quickly as a go-between to invite Falstaff to come to Alice Ford´s house between two and three o´clock, when her jealous husband will not be at home. Falstaff immediately accepts the invitation. Soon afterwards, Ford pays him a visit, pretending to be Signor Fontana, who has fallen in love with Alice but been rejected by her.  He has heard about Falstaff´s reputation as a lover, and offers to pay him to prepare the ground for his own amorous advances. Falstaff boats to him that he will embrace Alice in his arms that very day. Believing that Alice is deceiving him, Ford rushes home between two and three o´clock, when Falstaff has already arrived at the house for his rendezvous with Alice. Just in time, the women manage to hide Falstaff in a laundry basket, which is emptied into the River Thames amidst peals of laughter. Falstaff is nevertheless persuaded to keep to yet another tryst. He is instructed to come to Windsor Park that night in the guise of the black Hunstman, wearing antlers on his head. Once in the park, he is attacked by people of the town dresses as elves and goblins, who torment him terribly. But Ford´s Plan also backfires: he intends to marry his daughter Nannetta, wo loves the poor Fenton, to Dr. Caius. In the general confusion, however, the couple find one another again. Who is now the cuckold, Falstaff muses complacently. However, everyone agrees: the whole world is a jest. 

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Coproduction partner

Co-production with China National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA)