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Falstaff [Blu-ray]

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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(Jun 25, 2013)
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Editorial Reviews

Based in part on Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and King Henry IV, Falstaff is Verdi's last stage work and his only comic opera. The humor in this multilayered masterpiece is distinctly wry, for all the main characters exhibit an array of human weaknesses that are implacably exposed by Verdi and his librettist Arrigo Boito.

Product Details

  • Format: Blu-ray, Classical, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: C Major Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 25, 2013
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0094AH3MA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,432 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Noam Eitan on June 3, 2013
Format: Blu-ray
This was staged at the Teatro Farnese in Parma in October 2011, an unusual baroque arena. It's a gorgeous venue but the acoustic is problematic. This was the first and only time a Verdi opera was staged there. Body mics were used and the first impression you get is of the flat sound, with no ambiance. The sets were designed to help the singers - there are huge wood panels at the back of the stage; Falstaff's huge bed has an even huger headboard, again, to help reflect the sound. Fenton and Nanetta sing their duet from the most sound reflecting corners on stage. But the miking strips the sound of any sense of location and you can't hear any effect of the sets on the singers' projection. Any off-stage sounds (the women in the end of act III part one, and the "molto lontano" horn that follows) come from the same "no place" because the miking cannot locate the sound on or off stage.

The next impression is Ambrogio Maestri's Falstaff. It seems that God created this singer to sing Falstaff. Boito's verses are given the clearest, most detailed expression. The singing is unstrained with beautiful tone. Every musical line is given a specific nuance in a way that draws you in. The marriage of Boito's poetry and Verdi's music never sounded so perfect, you hear the innate musicality of the text like never before. As a stage presence Maestri is Falstaff incarnated and the detailed musical expression is matched by a detailed dramatic performance.

In Stephen Medcalf's superb staging none of the singers is trying to be funny, the acting is naturalistic. This enhances the drama and makes the comedy funnier. Familiar comic situations are clarified and placed in focus. It's as if someone took an old fresco and cleaned it of centuries of dirt - the original vivid colors spring back to life.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Ugh, isn't Falstaff supposed to be a comedy? Well sung, well conducted, and well played, but the director's take here is so dark so as to be unwatchable for me. Falstaff is portrayed as a sinister, disengaged, narcissistic, boorish, slovenly, borderline sexual predator. The Merry Wives dressed all in black just come off as harsh and mean spirited. The sets are dark and depressing and sort of cheap looking. The fake Falstaff dumped in the river was pretty cheesy. Not much nuance or true humanity here, just another overbearing director's concept taken too far. Maybe he thought he was directing Rigoletto, but I think he got the `color' of this opera wrong. Give the performers 5 stars but thumbs down on the concept here. I watched it a few times to give it a chance. But liked it less and less on each viewing.

This is one of my favorite operas and there are many better versions in my opinion that are actually fun to watch. The Met production (Levine, Plishka, Freni), The Royal Opera House production (Giuliani, Bruson, Ricciarelli) and the Glyndebourne production (Jurowski, Purves, Kuznetsava) regularly make it into my play list and I know there are more good versions I haven't had time to see yet. Even the ROH over the top production with Bryn Terfel is preferable over this dark mess.

One comment on the sound. The orchestra seems too dialed back and in the background. This score especially is vibrant, complex and weaves in and out of the vocal lines. Usually I really like the voice forward, but not this time.

Like all the great operas there is obviously room to interpret characters over a broad range. But somebody turned the Falstaff bad guy knob to 11 here. To each his own taste, but for me just ends up being menacing and depressing.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I Italian opera in blu- ray. This really great stuff, especially when you consider it costs no more than a cheap seat at the opera house.
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Falstaff is Verdi's final opera; the crowning achievment of his long career. After years of deep and profound dramas (and one failed comedy)this one he as he himself said "I write this to amuse myself". This is a frothy "commedia lirica", the frosting on the cake of his career. It is not an "opera buffa" in the vein of Rossini or Donizetti nor is it a "dramma giocosa" of Mozart. So it does not have any slap-sick or prat-falls of a "buffa" nor philisophical perceptions of a "giocosa". This is lyric commedy where the hero is a gentleman, a "Sir" as knighted by royal order in the time of Henry IV circa 1413. He has served his king and his country well and is looking for a little "non military" entertainment. Yes he is older, heavier and cannot accept the fact that he is "over the hill" and not the dandy he once was. So for some amusement he writes some letters.....
The adventures that this leads to are "frothy and fun" and not to be taken seriously. I think this production is a gem. Directed by Stephen Medcalf with sets and costumes by James Varton, this production is "modern" up to date but most satisfactory.(Not Eurotrash!) The bed sheets as props is most original, and the giant bed (which acts as a baffle for the singers) is a stroke of genius. Everything works!
The head of the cast is, of course, the Falstaff of Ambrogio Maestri. He was born to be Falstaff. He is tall, ample of body with a deep basso cantante that carries all over (here it is body-miked so no strain on the singer)and he has a natural sense of comic timing. He is superb! Even better than in his performance under Ricardo Muti with La Scalla at Busetto in 2001. (The Fenton in this performance is a young Juan Diego Florea and the Alice is Barbara Frittoli).
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