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Falstaff (1992)

Mirella Freni , Paul Plishka , James Levine , Franco Zeffirelli  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Mirella Freni, Paul Plishka
  • Directors: James Levine, Franco Zeffirelli, Gil Wechsler, Paul Mills
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: Italian (DTS 5.1), Italian (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Roc-A-Fella
  • DVD Release Date: June 30, 2009
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0020XT9RK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,128 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Review

A milestone in the history of operatic production in this city --New York Herald Tribune

This Met ensemble, all lively and convincing actors, works splendidly together...Plishka s Falstaff is a highly effective piece of characterization...Freni is a delightful Alice,
Graham makes the most of Meg, and Horne clearly enjoys herself as Quickly...Bonney and Lopardo present the young lovers elegantly. Levine conducts Verdi s magical score
with warmth and great brio --Opera News

Exemplary. Its cast was about as good as can be currently gathered. James Levine's conducting had the right combination of delicacy and panache. --New York Times [on this revival of the Zeffirelli production]

Product Description

This is the acclaimed Falstaff from the Metropolitan Opera s 1992 extraordinary Zeffirelli production. Conducted under the famous baton of Maestro James Levine, this release
includes an all-star cast featuring Mirella Freni and Paul Plishka. Available now for the first time on DVD.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
I was not around for this production of Zeffirelli's Met Debut in 1964...but fortunately I was a Met Subscriber by 1992 when this was revised and had it on one of my subscription evenings. When I watched this DVD, all the great memories of the production came back to me. Levine conducted a GREAT CAST (Plishka, Freni, Horne, Bonney, Graham, Pola and Lopardo. Two of the Met's great comprimarios, De Palma and Laciura also make this a perfect "Falstaff".
It is a beautiful no-nonsense staging with all the color, emotion and humor which Verdi intended. Simply, it is fun to watch and everyone on stage is having fun presenting it.
When I saw on the DG web-site that it was going to be released, I checked amazon.com for its availability and noticed the release date of June 30, 2009. I couldn't wait until then...lol. So I went into the Amazon.canada site and it was there....so I purchased it from Canada. Not a great price difference and the shipping was wonderful.
This is a Met performance which you must add to your collection. DG always outdoes itself. Video and audio was fantastic.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Falstaff of great beauty and tender wit July 12, 2009
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It is to composer and librettist Arrigo Boito and his constant pestering of the octogenarian Verdi that there remained within him one last great comedy fighting to get out that we owe this absolute miracle of an opera. Produced in 1893 as Verdi turned 80 there is much in this masterpiece that can be identified as a modernist neoclassical work. The use of short motifs instead of long arioso melodic lines, the spry and reduced orchestral textures and the lack of a single 'stand and deliver' dramatic declamatory aria all serve to make this more of a 20th century work than an example of 19th century late-Romanticism. Despite his many years of writing for the stage Verdi refuses to give in to either age or time. There is an eternally youthful freshness to this score that is often breathtaking, culminating in the celestial final scene in Windsor Park. Like the enchanted Forest of Arden in As You Like It, we are in a world of nocturnal magic and human redemption that an Ovidian Verdi transforms into a wondrous fugue proclaiming that all the world's a joke. Any successful production of Falstaff must celebrate this magic.

This new DVD release of a performance filmed in October 1992 features Franco Zeffirelli's venerable 1964 production, his first appearance at the Met. Although it occasionally shows its age it is strong enough to overcome some minor shortcomings. Visually stunning in depicting Tudor era Windsor, there is something deeply satisfying in the way the singers interact with their surroundings. Each performance has a calm organic rightness at its core that transcends the frenetic pace of the opera, giving this Falstaff a sense of balance that always remains sure-handed. Paul Plishka is a wonderfully affecting Falstaff, comic yet vulnerable. Mirella Freni is superb as Alice Ford.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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I've just watched this Falstaff for the first time. Big names cast, Met forces under Levine, classic Zeffirelli settings... I had great expectations.

Plishka's Falstaff is outstanding, both from the acting and singing point of view. It has everything required: the right age, attitude, voice and comedy doses. Freni's Alice and Horne's Quickly are also quite enjoyable, but they both lack something I would describe as "agility": there's some stiffness in their acting and singing, which is not present in Plishka nor Susan Graham's Meg Page, a small role perfectly rendered. My Top-One lady in this production is Barbara Bonney, just wonderful as Nannetta. Her "Sul fil d'un soffio etesio" is absolutely magic, though the white horse she rides while singing the aria's first part seems to disagree (oh, these regisseurs!...). Frank Lopardo is very good as Fenton, though his voice is a little too spinto for the role, anyway the result is quite pleasing. Bruno Pola seems not at ease with Ford, his emission looses perfection here and there, but all in all, he delivers a solid performance. From the Bardolf-Pistol-Caius trio I pick veteran Piero di Palma (Dr. Caius), for his musical, smooth tone and perfect diction, which old timers like me recognize in so many opera recordings from the 50's and on. The guy set a standard. Levine conducts with his renowned masterful Verdi expertise.

The sound is very good, and balance between stage and pit is well done, not an easy task in this highly complex score. I believe 4:3 image quality isn't up to 1993 standard, and this is a disappointing first impression, but you should soon forget it and get captivated by the performance. There's no interesting bonus material, and we have subtitles in Italian, English, German, French, Spanish (very good), and Chinese. My first impression: four stars and a half.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an exciting performance March 25, 2010
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This is a delightful performance of Verdi's only comic opera. The direction is by Franco Zeffirelli as was the set design. Given that the Met appears to be retiring the classic Zeffirelli sets, in the near future DVD may be the only place to see these wonderful creations. I do not have the expertise to comment on the quality of the singing -- however all appeared to do a great job. What stood out for me was the fantastic acting by Paul Plishka (Falstaff). His facial expressions were amazing and captivating (and something that most people in the MET audience could not see). The DVD quality is wonderful -- the picture has clarity and excellent color saturation. The camera work is very good -- there is none of the jerky cuts that clutter some other opera DVDs. The sound is fine -- I always prefer DTS when it is available compared to PCM or Dolbey 5.1. The DTS provides a reasonable but not fantastic sound stage. On my first sitting I watched the last act at least four times. This is a DVD I will be going back to watch.
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