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

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