The fictional operatic character, Falstaff has starred in three theatrical creations of William Shakespeare. Falstaff is Giuseppe Verdi’s second comical delight of the twenty six operas composed by him. Verdi’s initial attempt to produce a comedy opera had failed; this marvel piece was written when the talented composer was approaching the age of eighty and premiered when he reached the age of ninety.
The plot of the play is drawn from The Merry Wives of Windsor and some basics are also taken from Henry IV. The opera was premiered at La Scala, Milan in 1893. In the following years, the production hit the UK and US opera houses with great success. In 1894 particularly, the operatic performance at Royal Opera House in Covent Garden earned critical acclaim from fans. It is still performed in different regions around the world.
The comic ensemble portrays a larger than a life character of Falstaff who attempts to seduce married ladies setting eyes on their husbands’ wealth but the women in turn take revenge from the ill-mannered knight. The highlight of the show is Ford who searches the fat Falstaff along with his mates as if he is hiding in the tea cup. Lately, the presence of the real life horse at the stage of Royal Opera was received very enthusiastically by the audience. Although an entertaining gimmick, the horse was the showstopper of the evening that gelled absolutely well with the comic theme.
The moments of comic exuberance enlivens the whole production and for this reason, the opera performance has kept the excitement and involvement alive in its audience till date. In the production directed by Matthew Lata at Kaye Playhouse, all the actors and performers have made unique contributions in their own way. Robert Kerr played the role of the Shakespeare’s beloved and iconic Falstaff who sets his sights on Allyson Herman playing as wealthy Alice Ford and Kiri Parker as Meg Page. Matthew Gamble sang with power and warmth and added a rich lyrical voice to the show. The performance of Christian Zaremba as a stage animal, Brandon Snook as Dr. Caius and Christopher Longo as Bardolfo was also noteworthy. This masterpiece creation of Verdi has given his audience a reason for the fun and frolic.
According to the New York Times, the gifted cast of the opera still remembers the ear splitting grins of the delighted audience of Verdi’s Falstaff at Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse. The diction and phrasing of the dialogues was carefully and thoughtfully put by the production’s director striking an adequate balance between comedy and seriousness. Verdi’s Falstaff at the Opera Holland Park was also a comical treat. Olafur Sigurdarson played the enriched role of Falstaff who received standing ovations from the audiences. The majestic voice of Brian Galliford and Simon Wilding added color and life to the hilarious production.
Falstaff is admired by fans and critics alike for his scintillating and gloriously comic performances. The music gels perfectly with the excellent staging and acting that will enable you to remember him as the master of Italian opera. If you are not securing Falstaff tickets , you are throwing away the amazing opportunity of spending a wonderful evening at the opera house.
The singing, acting, orchestra and design are perfect to create a fine production. Despite the fact Falstaff is a fat drunk womanizer but you still cannot hate him. The iconoclastic character has everything it has to offer to its fans and engages all five senses of the opera goers and new comers alike. It is not one of those frequent Verdian productions but a once-in-a-decade experience; therefore you may secure your share of Falstaff tickets before the tickets run out of stock.