Arnold Ostmann conducts "Falstaff," an "opera buffa" in two acts, composed by Antonio Salieri (1750-1825). The Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart performs this great piece with soloists John Del Carlo, Teresa Ringholz, Richard Croft, Delores Ziegler, Jak
Thanks to Peter Schaffer's Amadeus
, Antonio Salieri has been immortalized as the mediocre musician who probably poisoned Mozart in a fit of jealousy over the latter's immense talent. While history has been less than kind to Salieri, occasional stagings of his operas and recordings of his works show that this ignorance is not entirely justified. His opera Falstaff
is one of several based on Shakespeare's immortal comic creation, and while not as memorable as Otto Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor
or Verdi's immortal Falstaff
, Salieri's version passes its two hours onstage with a pleasing comic touch.
This 1995 performance from the Schwetzinger Festspiele in Germany is proof positive that Salieri's operas can hold their own onstage. Director Michael Hampe stages the farce at a brisk but never breakneck pace, and he and his designers conjure up a plausibly comic world. John de Carlo looks exactly right as the overbearing knight whose eye for the ladies leads to his comeuppance, and he sings with brio. Conductor Arnold Östmann and the Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart play the bright-sounding score with panache. Visually, this Falstaff looks great, and aurally, the stereo mix is quite good. Since this is an opera that's rarely recorded, let alone heard, this disc is a must for fans of 18th-century music. --Kevin Filipski