Friday, July 29, 2016

A few bits of Shakespeare's Falstaff

As we prepare for Verdi's Falstaff, here are the texts of Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2.

A few selections from the opera and from Shakespeare here.

And three scenes with Roger Allam's incredible Falstaff:

Hen IV. Part 1 Act 1 Sc. 2

Falstaff’s Honor speech Hen. IV. Part 1

A short trailer for one of the greatest films most people have never seen: The confabulation of Falstaff known as Chimes at Midnight, Orson Welles:


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A bit of Falstaff

Maestri as Falstaff

Verdi's last opera didn't come easily. With Arrigo Boito, the composer worked on Falstsaff in fits and starts for three years. Verdi turned 80 before it was complete.

At one point in a letter he described the opera as a madman that he had to subdue:
The Big Belly ["pancione" -- the name given to the opera before the composition of Falstaff became public knowledge] is on the road to madness. There are some days when he does not move, he sleeps, and is in a bad humour. At other times he shouts, runs, jumps, and tears the place apart; I let him act up a bit, but if he goes on like this, I will put him in a muzzle and straitjacket.[28]

The first performance, at La Scala, was a hit: 

at the end the applause for Verdi and the cast lasted an hour

A brief snip with Ambrogio Maestri as Falstaff at Covent Garden:

Too bad the whole production isn't yet available online. Here's a complete production of Falstaff at La Scala, conducted by Ricardo Muti, again with Maestri.

A few resources:

Verdi directing Falstaff

"I believe it will take years and years before the general public understand this masterpiece, but when they really know it they will run to hear it like they do now for Rigoletto and La traviata." - Arturo Toscanini

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pergamon at the Met

The above is a fragment containing what might be the oldest bits of Homer that we have. The words are from the Odyssey, and was featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Pergamon exhibit. Below is a bust believed to represent Homer.

Click on Herakles for few more images from that exhibit:

Pergamon MET 2016.06

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Summer divagation

Macbeth Royal Opera

Our reading group has hit the pause button on Paradiso for the summer, and John Goodman's lectures on Verdi and Shakespeare offer a superb distraction from the rigors of the Commedia.

John Goodman

The infinite resources of the web here offer a bi-lingual libretto of Othello, the next opera Mr. Goodman will tackle. 
        Here is La Scala's production /Muti, Domingo, Frittoli, Nucci, Ceron: 


Boito and Verdi