Revenge is sweet (and funny!): Verdi’s ‘Falstaff’ in Grass Valley
Special to Prospector
WHO: The Del Oro Theatre in partnership with Music in the Mountains and InConcert Sierra Presents
WHAT: The Metropolitan Opera, LIVE in HD - FALSTAFF
WHEN: 9:55 a.m. Saturday Dec. 14
WHERE: The Del Oro Theatre, 165 Mill Street, Grass Valley
TICKETS: $22 Adults, $20 Seniors, $15 Children 12 and under & students with ID; Available online at http://www.sierratheaters.com or at the Del Oro Box Office
INFO: http://www.sierratheaters.com, 530-272-1646
This Saturday at Grass Valley’s Del Oro, Sierra Theaters presents Giuseppe Verdi’s “Falstaff” as the newest offering of The Met Opera Live in HD.
Reigning operatic master Giuseppe Verdi somehow saved the best for last. After a prolonged break of some years, Verdi in his 70s returned to the stage with a one-two punch: the tragic “Otello,” and then his final opera, the comedic “Falstaff.” It’s an adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s weakest plays, “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Now that doesn’t make “Merry Wives” a bad play, for even when not in top form, Shakespeare tops just about anybody else. The play involves the rascally Falstaff, a larger-than-life inebriate and buffoon, in a complicated intrigue of seduction. Arrigo Boito’s libretto follows its source closely, borrowing some text from “Henry IV: Part I” as well. Verdi, a lifelong fan of the Bard, had set “Macbeth,” was forced to abandon plans for an adaptation of “King Lear,” wrote some of his most delightful and charming music for his final opera. And it’s demanding music as well: nine-part fugues, dizzying stage action, rapid changes of tempo. He somehow manages to make the orchestra laugh. All this from a composer approaching his 80th year!
The would-be targets of Falstaff’s lust turn the tables on the self-deceiving fool. Of course, the rogue gets his just deserts; Act 2 contains a hilarious scene in which the obese would-be lover, hiding in a basket of dirty laundry, gets tossed into the Thames. True love trumps all in the end, in a glorious contrapuntal climax that unravels all the (quite) tangled plots and subplots of the libretto.
This would be a terrific first opera for the reluctant attendee: It’s fast, funny, and for the musical-minded, it contains some magnificent writing, surely among the composer’s best work. Conductor James Levine is back on the podium after a lengthy absence due to health issues. He heads a brand new production that has garnered high praise. This one is pure joy!
John Deaderick is a local theatre instructor, director, actor and the author of Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis, available at Amazon.com.
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