Ambrogio Maestri (Falstaff), Tassis Christoyannis (Ford), Eva Mei (Alice), Sylvia Schwartz (Nannetta), Laura Polverelli (Meg Page), Yvonne Naef (Mistress Quickly), Xabier Anduaga (Fenton), Francesco Pittari (Dr Caius), Stuart Patterson (Bardolfo), Giovanni Battista Parodi (Pistola) • Co-directors: Iván Fischer, Marco Gandini
Giuseppe Verdi: Falstaff
Iván Fischer stepped away from his world-famous Mozart cycle to direct and conduct a work by Verdi in March. The audience of the Vicenza Opera Festival now has the opportunity to see Falstaff, the Italian genius Verdi’s last opera, with which he bid a cheerful farewell to this world.
Rossini’s remark about being unable to compose a comic opera hung over Verdi for decades. The critical quip disturbed him even as he approached eighty, after half a century occupied with composition and with 27 operas to his credit, which is when he took the plunge and decided to write his three-act comedy Falstaff (1893). Having completed Othello, he was yearning for a change of genres and, as he said, “I have mercilessly slaughtered a large number of heroes and heroines, it is high time I had some laughs too.”
Verdi was anxious about not being able to finish the work, but his librettist Arrigo Boito fortunately had the power to convince him to take up the task. The composer respected and loved Shakespeare, keeping volumes of the Bard’s work on his bedside table, while Boito had compiled a unique libretto from The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV that Verdi was unable to resist. With no deadline he composed freely and at his leisure to create a brand new genre, the lyric comedy. On stage, in an opera set in a rich and inventive melodic world, the character of the pot-bellied, greedy, farcical seducer Falstaff appears delicately nuanced and wisely self-ironic.
Over the past decades, many famous conductors have worked hard to retain Falstaff within the operatic canon. Now, following in the footsteps of Toscanini, Karajan, Solti and Bernstein, Iván Fischer has the same goal. In this concert, the conductor-director will be joined on stage by some superstar Italian singers. Falstaff will be performed by Ambrogio Maestri, guest of the most prestigious opera theatres world-wide, such as the New York Metropolitan or the Covent Garden, London.