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Antonio Salieri: Falstaff
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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
- Subtitles in English and Japanese
- Menus in English, French, Castilian, and Japanese
- 36-page booklet in German, English, and French
Top Customer Reviews
Now granted that it comes nowhere close to the standard set by the Verdi opera and it lacks the great beauty of the Vaughan Williams "Sir John in Love," it is almost as good as Nicolai's "Merry Wives of Windsor" and quite respectable on its own terms. As in Boito's libretto for the Verdi work, Salieri's librettist, Carlo Prospers Defranceschi, cut the Shakespeare play down to its essential plots and even more so. The subplot of Fenton and Ann Page is gone. Indeed so are Mr. and Mrs. Page, the second merry wife here becoming Mrs. Slender. The incident of Falstaff in drag is included, however, and Mr. Ford gets two jealousy arias, where Boito gives him one.
There is a very funny scene in which Mrs. Ford comes in disguise (since there is no Mistress Quickly in this version), pretending to speak German and a little English, while Falstaff professes to speak only English and a little German--all the while the two are singing in Italian, laced with German phrases and a little French thrown in!
There is a little more secco recite than modern audiences would care to have, and not many of the tunes of the arias and ensembles will linger in the memory after only one hearing; but the score is in general bubbly and well composed by the man who almost certainly did not murder Mozart.
The cast is strong throughout. Boasting many American singers, it includes John Del Carlo (Falstaff), Teresa Ringholz (Mrs. Ford), Richard Croft (Mr.Read more ›
Mozart outshone Salieri. Mozart (we know) was genius who accomplished the unbelievable and amazing in such a brief span of life. Nonetheless, Salieri is very worthy of exploration and his works, this in particular, should be heard by modern audiences. I can't think of a better production to do the introduction than this ArtHaus DVD.
In the title role, we are treated to a spirited, infectiously joyful performance by John Del Carlo. He looks exactly like my perfect Verdian Falstaff and his music is inspired. Salieri's recitatives are often as exciting as his arias and ensembles, and he's fairly daring in his structure of this work with ensembles, recits, arias, double recits, etc. flowing in and out of each other was masterful creativity.
What a delight to see Delores Ziegler as Mistress Slender. Ziegler's comic timing is nearly the match of Del Carlo's and again Salieri has given his cast some tough music.
Speaking of tough music, the assignment Salieri gives Ford (as opposed to Verdi's Ford, we get a tenor), is met with near athletic aplomb and virtuosity by my favorite tenor, Richard Croft. Croft plays the jealous Ford with the skill of a great actor, his body language, even when he's just listening and reacting to Slender's scheming reveals much about this character. Croft throws out some dazzling vocal fireworks in his 2nd scene's aria and recitative. While some critics complain that even late Salieri sounds older than early Mozart, I won't agree.Read more ›
Pay no heed also to the persistent denigrating comparisons between Antonio Salieri and a certain brash young Salzburger of the same era. Salieri was an extremely successful composer and a highly sought-after teacher (his students included Beethoven and Schubert) precisely because he was very skilled and very entertaining. His "Falstaff" is exactly that: entertaining! The compositional art is there, to be sure, but the emphasis is on entertainment. Likewise, this production from the Schwetzinger Festspiele of 1995 aims to entertain. The costumes are amusing, the stage action is well executed, the characters are comically realized, the music itself is brash and funny, and the libretto is hilarious. The English subtitles are not literal translations, but rather witty paraphrases in rhyme. The funniest portions of the libretto are the scenes when Mistress Ford disguises herself as a German and comes to Falstaff with a love assignation; even if you speak neither Italian nor German, you'll know how comically the two singers are butchering the two languages.
Of course, the libretto should be funny, since it's based on Shakespeare's slapstick "Merry Wives of Windsor". If you've read that play, or seen Verdi's "Falstaff", you won't need a synopsis to know in advance the purpose of the humongous laundry basket on the side of the stage.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I disagree with the reviewers who complained about the singing and sound quality...I thought the sound was fine, and the singing quite good. The opera was amusing. Read morePublished on February 24, 2011 by BillBC
This was one of the most unpleasant experiences in hearing and watching an opera DVD. This looked and sounded as another casualty of experimental German productions, although in... Read morePublished on September 8, 2010 by Anna Shlimovich
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