Verdi's Falstaff at the Royal Opera House, London
22 May 2012, London, UK
Ambrogio Maestri as Falstaff(Photo: Catherine Ashmore)
Review by Francis Muzzu
Verdi's Falstaff is the Royal Opera's contribution to this summer's World Shakespeare Festival in London. A new production by Robert Carsen (shared with La Scala and the Canadian Opera Company) it is updated to the 1950s; a second Elizabethan Age, and one of comparable social mobility to the first.
It all works well (with the aid of some judiciously tweaked surtitles) and Paul Steinberg's oak-panelled sets look very fine indeed, as does Alice Ford's rather fabulous kitchen. The comedy unfolds naturally and is generally unforced, and Daniele Gatti leads an equally flowing performance in the pit and is attentive to his singers.
Ambrogio Maestri's Falstaff is rightly dominant in both presence and voice, and rules the stage; Dalibor Jenis puts up a good fight as Ford. Mistresses Ford, Page and Quickly (respectively Ana Maria Martinez, Kai Rüütel and Marie-Nicole Lemieux) are sharply characterised and elegantly sung, though their voices are more Glyndebourne-sized; and Amanda Forsythe’s Nanetta and Joel Prieto’s Fenton sound delicious but very small-scale.
Grab one of the few remaining tickets if you can – it’s great fun.
Robert Carsen's new production of Falstaff runs at Covent Garden until 30 May