Commedia lirica in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi
At the age of almost 80, Giuseppe Verdi, who had already achieved mythical status, once again achieved sensational success with this opera. Using the brilliant libretto of the much younger Arrigo Boito as a starting point, he created a masterpiece of comic opera after five decades of tragic works. Although it is based on the same material as Otto Nicolai’s »The Merry Wives of Windsor«, Verdi succeeded in writing a distinct, subversive version of the comedy.
The behaviour of the ageing Sir John Falstaff, a devious freeloader, rake and would-be ladykiller, causes uproar in the petty-bourgeois household of the Windsors. Not only does he swindle his way through life, but this playboy also believes he can make advances to two women with identical love letters. The indignant yet shrewd women do not put up with this and prepare to strike back. Both wise and revealing, full of caricatures and highly detailed characterisation, the ageing Verdi’s »Falstaff« score is highly natural and visually evocative, full of wordplay, rhythmic finesse and musical associations. To a much greater extent than in his earlier works, the orchestra provides a quick-witted and pithy commentary throughout the opera. With his larger-than-life characters, turbulent ensembles and situational parodies, this work is an invaluable source of inspiration for a truly global musical theatre, just as Shakespeare would have wished.
- approx. 2:50 h, including an interval after act one
- www.staatsoper-berlin.de/en/veranstaltungen/falstaff.88 https://www.staatsoper-berlin.de/en/veranstaltungen/falstaff.88/
- musical director
- Daniel Barenboim
- Mario Martone
- Set Designer
- Margherita Palli
- Ursula Patzak
- Raffaella Giordano
- Pasquale Mari
- Sir John Falstaff
- Michael Volle
- Alfredo Daza
- Francesco Demuro
- Dr. Cajus
- Jürgen Sacher
- Stephan Rügamer
- Jan Martiník
- Mrs. Alice Ford
- Barbara Frittoli
- Nadine Sierra
- Mrs. Quickly
- Daniela Barcellona
- Mrs. Meg Page
- Katharina Kammerloher
- STAATSKAPELLE BERLIN
Part one – Dr. Cajus is furious: he claims that Falstaff’s buddies Bardolfo and Pistola got him drunk last night and then robbed him. Sir John Falstaff shows himself unimpressed by the accusations and sends him off without a response—but not without taking Bardolfo and Pistola to task for their sloppily executed theft. And yet, he is also plagued by pecuniary concerns, since although it has been a long time since he has seen better days, he and his cohorts are all living beyond their means. So Falstaff connives to combine the useful with the pleasant and decides to make advances at the attractive, married women Alice Ford and Meg Page by sending them letters: not only will this serve to demonstrate the never-ebbing seductive arts of Falstaff, now getting on in years, but the well-situated women would also offer financial benefits as well. Bardolfo and Pistola, citing their honor, refuse to deliver the immoral love missives. So Falstaff sends the page Robin to deliver the letters, takes Bardolfo and Pistola to task and chases them away.
Part two – The letters have just reached their addressees when the purported targets of affection compare the two documents and realize that they are completely identical, except for the salutation. Alice and Meg are eager to get back at Falstaff, and concoct a plan together with Mrs Quickly and Alice’s daughter Nannetta: Falstaff is to be invited to a rendezvous with Alice, where he can be tricked. Mrs Quickly is selected to bring Falstaff the message personally.
In the meantime, Bardolfo and Pistola, promising themselves a reward, have changed sides and reveal Falstaff’s plans of seduction to Mr Ford. The constantly jealous Ford’s suspicions are now awakened, for he does not think that his wife’s sense of fidelity could hold up to such an attack. With Cajus, his desired son in law, and Fenton he conjures up a plan: Bardolfo and Pistola are to return to Falstaff, apparently contrite, to arrange an audience for Ford under a false name, in order to find out what his wife’s answer will turn out to be.
In the meantime, Nannetta, Ford’s daughter, and Fenton have a secret: they have just fallen in love and use every unnoticed moment to exchange tender caresses.
Part one – According to plan, Bardolfo and Pistola feign contriteness to Falstaff and return to their work. Just after arriving, a visitor is announced: Mrs Quickly tricks Falstaff by announcing the success of his love letters. Both Meg and Alice were now ravenously in love with him, she claims. But while Meg is watched carefully each day around the clock by her husband, Mr Ford is away everyday from two to three in the afternoon. Falstaff sees himself as soon having achieved his goal of having Alice in his arms.
The next guest arrives immediately afterward: it is Ford in disguise, introducing himself as an affluent Signor Fontana. He says he is undyingly in love with the beautiful Alice, but until now has only met with rejection. He proposes that, in return for a financial reward, Falstaff, as the more likely candidate, should seduce the modest woman to make it easier for him to make his move, since she will have already committed adultery. Thrilled by such prospects, Falstaff readily agrees and reports of the meeting that had just been planned. Ford is stunned.
Part two – Mrs Quickly announces Falstaff’s upcoming arrival to Alice. Alice, with Meg and Nannetta, is preparing everything for the rendezvous. While doing so, Nannetta in tears announces her father’s plans for her marriage. The friends both find the old Cajus an unsuitable husband and promise to help. Then they all withdraw when the expected Falstaff appears and overwhelms Alice with flattery. But he doesn’t have much time, for now Meg bursts in to warn, as planned, of the supposed arrival of the jealous Ford. While Falstaff looks for a place to hide, Mrs Quickly, in shock, announces the actual arrival of the furious husband. In accordance with the original plan, Falstaff is hidden in the laundry basket. Ford searches the house with Cajus, Bardolfo, and Pistola, but finds nothing, until he hears something suspicious behind a folding screen. But instead of Falstaff and Alice, he finds his daughter and Fenton kissing one another. Alice carries out the last part of her plan with Falstaff and has the laundry with its heavy load emptied into the nearby river.
Part one – Falstaff is quite cross about his failure, and full of resentment against the entire world. It is only with effort can Mrs Quickly convince him that his misadventure was not Alice’s doing. She invites him to another, midnight rendezvous outside. Falstaff agrees.
In the meantime, the Fords, now reconciled with one another, conjure up the following plan: at the planned meeting point, costumed mythical creatures should give Falstaff a good scare. The women plan accordingly. Ford tells Cajus that he should take advantage of the confusion, abduct Nannetta and marry her. But Mrs Quickly overhears this conversation.
Part two – Alice doesn't want to leave her daughter in Cajus’ hands, and so she quickly changes the clothing in which Cajus is supposed to recognize Nannetta that night. Falstaff approaches the meeting point. Again, he is only given just a brief moment with Alice before the masquerade begins. All sorts of dark figures descend upon him and want to force him to forgive. Finally, Falstaff recognizes Bardolfo in the mob and so sees through the show. Ford triumphs over Falstaff and wants to crown the masquerade by presenting the freshly married couple. But Cajus is forced to realize that Bardolfo is concealed beneath the veil. Alice presents the married Nannetta with Fenton at her side and explains the mix up. Falstaff sums up that all have been tricked in this game.
Vorwort 45 Minuten vor Vorstellungsbeginn im Apollosaal, Referent: Benjamin Wäntig
Sieg für Michael Volle.
Michael Volle gibt in dieser Produktion sein Debüt in der Titelrolle, und die Souveränität, mit der er in dieser dicht geschriebenen Partitur seine Freiräume nutzt, ist atemberaubend. Selten erlebt man einen derart schlüssigen Zusammenhang zwischen Gesang und Aktion wie bei diesem Bariton.
Unbedingt erwähnenswert ist noch Nadine Sierras Nannetta, deren fruchtiger Sopran jene Jugendlichkeit ausstrahlt, in der man sich noch Hoffnung machen kann.
Nichts wird hier platt im natürlichen Fluss der situativen Drehungen und Pointen, auch kleine Details wie ein kurzer, aber unübersehbar Distanz schaffender Gesten- und Blickwechsel zwischen Barbara Frittolis körperlich wie geistig fitter Alice Ford und Jürgen Sachers staubtrockenem Cajus finden Platz und Aufmerksamkeit.
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
Auch sängerisch gab es konstant hohes Niveau und als Überwölbung einiges, was den Tag überleben dürfte. Vielleicht schon der kernig durchdringende, aber auch in seinen Zweifeln bis hin zur psychischen Selbstverletzung ungewöhnlich tief lotende Ford von Alfredo Daza – eine ausgehöhlte Existenz, die einem dennoch nahegeht; ganz gewiss aber Nadine Sierras entzückende, aus ihrem dekadent wohlstandsverwahrlosten Umfeld frühlingshaft frisch entschwebende Nannetta und Michael Volle, der mit der Titelrolle in einer Weise debütierte, als habe er sich eine ganze Laufbahn auf diesen Falstaff vorbereitet: als Kneipenphilosoph, Kommunen-Leithirsch und Mann eigenen Weges, bei allen spontanen Ausfällen reflexionsfähig und gewitzt genug, um zu wissen, dass seine Zeit vorbei ist – und dennoch das Beste daraus machen.
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
In Michael Volle findet er [Mario Martone] ohnehin die Idealbesetzung für die Titelfigur. Wie sehr dieser Ausnahmesänger mit seinem Rollen verschmilzt, hat man in Berlin schon oft erleben können, zuletzt als Orest in ‚Elektra‘. Wenn er als Falstaff Weib und Wein preist, strömt es warm, drischt er Phrasen, röhrt es hohl, wenn er spottet, klingt er ölig, nölt und fiepst im Falsett.
Verschwenderischen Wohlklang verströmen Barbara Frittoli als Alice Ford, Katharina Kammerloher als Meg Page und Nadine Sierra als Nannetta, zumal bei ihr und Francesco Demuros Fenton der emotionale Glutkern der Oper liegt – ihre vielen kleinen Liebesduette und Verzweiflungsausbrüche sind zum Hinschmelzen.
Daniel Barenboim kitzelt mit seiner Staatskapelle lustvoll die vielen parodistischen und satirisch zuspitzenden Momente heraus, die Travestien religiöser Melodien, das Spuk- und Sprunghafte des Geister-Finales. Darunter aber spannt er einen warmen Grundton, ein waches Wirken und Weben, das diesen Abend trägt: das menschenfreundliche Lächeln eines altersweisen Komponisten.
In Italian language with German and English surtitles