Giuseppe Verdi

Falstaff

19 May - 14 July 2013
Festival 2013

Watch Falstaff online until 31 August

Throughout his long career, Verdi longed to find a good subject for a comic opera. Towards the very end of it he found that subject, in the vast and jovial shape of Shakespeare’s John Falstaff.

It was the suggestion of his librettist, Arrigo Boito, with whom he had worked on Otello, and Verdi was at first resistant. ‘Did you ever think of the enormous number of my years?’ he wrote in a letter of 1889. ‘Supposing I couldn’t stand the strain? And failed to finish it? You would then have uselessly wasted your time and trouble!’

Boito was having none of this and wrote straight back: ‘There’s only one way to finish better than with Otello and that’s to finish triumphantly with Falstaff. After having sounded all the shrieks and groans of the human heart, to finish with a mighty burst of laughter – now that is to astonish the world.’

And he was right. The result is indeed a triumph, and joyously life-affirming. This revival of the production by Richard Jones, first seen at Glyndebourne in 2009, places the action firmly in Windsor with recognisably English characters. ‘It’s a clever conceit,’ said The Observer, ‘brilliantly executed by the designer Ultz, whose sharp eye for detail, authentic and witty, is part of the charm.’

Sir Mark Elder will conduct the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (James Gaffigan on July 4, 9, 14), giving audiences a rare opportunity to hear the lyrical glories of the score performed on instruments of Verdi’s time.

Listen to Falstaff podcast (27 mins)

Falstaff (recorded live in 2009) will be in cinemas and online from 17 June 2013, venues and booking details are available on the 'In Cinemas' tab.

Read an interview with revival director, Sarah Fahie, in the Australian Times.

A revival of the 2009 Festival production
Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Supported by Lord and Lady Laidlaw

Falstaff

Giuseppe Verdi

Recorded live in 2009

Cast and Creative Team from the 2009 Festival

Conductor Vladimir Jurowski
Director Richard Jones
Designer Ultz
Lighting Designer Mimi Jordan Sherin
Movement Director Linda Dobell

London Philharmonic Orchestra

The Glyndebourne Chorus

Cast includes

Dr Caius, a French physician Peter Hoare
Sir John Falstaff Christopher Purves
Bardolph Alasdair Elliott
Pistol Paolo Battaglia
Mrs Page (Meg) Jennifer Holloway
Mrs Ford (Alice) Dina Kuznetsova
Mistress Quickly Marie-Nicole Lemieux
Nannetta Adriana Kučerová
Fenton, a young gentleman Bülent Bezdüz
Ford, a wealthy townsman Tassis Christoyannis

If you are a cinema venue and are interested in screening our productions please contact screenings@glyndebourne.com

Header: 

Falstaff (Recorded live in 2009) will be streamed online until 31 August 2013.

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Follow us on Twitter for the latests news #Falstaff.

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Cast and Creative Team from the 2009 Festival

Conductor Vladimir Jurowski
Director Richard Jones
Designer Ultz
Lighting Designer Mimi Jordan Sherin
Movement Director Linda Dobell

London Philharmonic Orchestra

The Glyndebourne Chorus

Cast includes

Dr Caius, a French physician Peter Hoare
Sir John Falstaff Christopher Purves
Bardolph Alasdair Elliott
Pistol Paolo Battaglia
Mrs Page (Meg) Jennifer Holloway
Mrs Ford (Alice) Dina Kuznetsova
Mistress Quickly Marie-Nicole Lemieux
Nannetta Adriana Kučerová
Fenton, a young gentleman Bülent Bezdüz
Ford, a wealthy townsman Tassis Christoyannis

Act I Scene 1

At the Garter Inn, Dr Caius accuses Falstaff and his followers Bardolph and Pistol of various misdemeanours. They drive Caius away and Falstaff advises his men to steal more carefully. Falstaff, short on cash, hatches a scheme: to woo Alice Ford and Meg Page, thus gaining access to their husbands’ fortunes. He has written identical love letters to both ladies and sends Bardolph and Pistol off to deliver them.

Scene 2

At the Fords’ home, Alice Ford and Meg Page discover that they have received identical love letters from Falstaff.  Along with Mistress Quickly and Alice’s daughter Nannetta, they resolve to teach Falstaff a lesson. Bardolph, Pistol, and Caius tell Ford that Falstaff has designs on his wife.  Meanwhile, Fenton romances Nannetta. The four women decide to send Quickly to Falstaff with an invitation from Alice. Ford plans to lay a trap for Falstaff by visiting him under a false name.

Act II Scene 1

Quickly visits Falstaff to arrange a tryst between him and Alice, and tells him that Meg also fancies him. After she leaves, Ford arrives, introducing himself as Mr Brook, and confides his failed attempts to woo Alice. He offers to pay Falstaff to seduce Alice, thereby making it easier for him to do so. Falstaff boasts that in half an hour Alice will be his, explaining that she has already requested a tryst. As Falstaff dresses for his rendezvous, Ford resolves to ambush Alice and Falstaff.

Scene 2

Quickly reports that Falstaff has accepted Alice’s offer. Nannetta complains that Ford is forcing her to marry rich old Caius, but Alice, Meg and Quickly pledge to help unite her instead with her beloved Fenton. Alice is left alone to receive Falstaff, who declares his passion for her. Meg arrives, feigning agitation because Ford is approaching. Falstaff hides, and it becomes apparent that Ford really is approaching. Ford enters and he and his men search the house. The women hide Falstaff in a laundry basket. Ford hears kissing behind a screen, tears it away and finds Fenton and Nannetta behind it. Alice orders the servants to dump the laundry basket into the Thames.

Interval

Act III Scene 1

Outside the Garter, a drenched Falstaff consoles himself with wine. Mistress Quickly arrives with a new proposition: Alice will meet Falstaff in Windsor Park at midnight. He must be disguised as Herne the Hunter. When Falstaff leaves, Alice enters to plan the midnight masquerade, assigning disguises to all. Ford secretly tells Caius to dress as a monk, and he will marry him to Nannetta. Mistress Quickly overhears this.

Scene 2

In Windsor Park, Fenton meets Nannetta, who is disguised as Queen of the Fairies. Alice enters with a monk’s habit for Fenton to wear. Falstaff arrives as midnight chimes and Alice soon joins him. Falstaff is terrified by the incantation of the ‘Queen of the Fairies’. Soon, maskers disguised as supernatural creatures arrive and torment Falstaff, demanding that he repent. When Falstaff recognises Bardolph, everyone unmasks, except a veiled couple who step up to be married. Alice presents a second couple to be wed, and Ford performs the double wedding. When the couples are unveiled, Ford admits his defeat and proposes a festive supper for all.

Creative team

Conductor Mark Elder
James Gaffigan (4, 9, 14 July)
Director Richard Jones
Revival Director Sarah Fahie
Designer Ultz
Lighting Designer Mimi Jordan Sherin

Cast

Falstaff Laurent Naouri
Alice Ford Ailyn Perez
Ford Roman Burdenko
Meg Page Lucia Cirillo
Mistress Quickly Susanne Resmark
Nannetta Elena Tsallagova
Fenton Antonio Poli
Dr Cajus Graham Clark
Bardolfo Colin Judson
Pistola Paolo Battaglia

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
The Glyndebourne Chorus

Elena Tsallagova, Ailyn Perez, Susanne Resmark and Lucia Cirillo in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Roman Burdenko and Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Elena Tsallagova, Susanne Resmark and Lucia Cirillo in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Ailyn Perez and Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Ailyn Perez and Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Ailyn Perez, Lucia Cirillo and Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
The Cast in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Ailyn Perez, Lucia Cirillo and Antonio Poli in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Laurent Naouri and Ailyn Perez in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton
Ailyn Perez, Roman Burdenko and Laurent Naouri in Falstaff, Festival 2013. Photo Tristram Kenton

“It is altogether a captivating, joyous evening.”
Rated 5* by the Guardian

"…this is the first time the Sussex house has fielded the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in anything as late as mature Verdi, and the results under Mark Elder are revelatory.”
Rated 5* by the Daily Telegraph

“There is no more life-enhancing night at the opera than a Falstaff as good as this.”
Rated 5* by the Financial Times

“…an exceptional cast and a rare musical treat in the shape of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment playing on period instruments".
Rated 5* by MusicOMH

“There are no weak links in the cast…"
Rated 4* by The Arts Desk

Comments

An excellent performance in every way -- singing, acting, band, sets and production. Wonderful, seamless music which makes one happy to be alive.
The evening was damp and cold. After walking around for a while I spent quite some time standing in the cold before the production began. When the weather is inclement why don't you provide a marquee for those who had planned to have an outdoor meal? And why not provide some protection from the weather, and some heating, for people eating at tables on the verandas? I had an excellent two-course meal in Nether Wallop.

Although 'Falstaff' is not one of my favourite operas, I thoroughly enjoyed this production. The singing was truly wonderful, particularly Falstaff and Alice, and the acting lively, very amusing and uplifting! The setting and costumes, both superb and we just loved those cats!

The weather has never been wonderful during my visits to Glyndebourne, so this year we hired our picnic table and had it moved undercover on arrival. The staff were excellent, not only suggesting the best place to set up, but were most helpful and obliging transporting table, chairs and our hampers.

As it was my partner's first time at Glyndebourne, we treated ourselves to the most expensive seats in the stalls. A mistake! Both suffered from neck ache at the end of the evening from reading the subtitles. It is good to be close, but only for operas sung in English.

We are both looking forward to our next opera, however, as it always such a magical and delightful experience.

Terrific performance under James G. He managed the singers who took time into their own hands. There was some extremely dexterous playing on the part of the strings and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance. Great Cor anglais part and the cat was a delicate touch.

Unusual and very enjoyable production. The cat was a star. Singing quite excellent and acting good and amusing

Loved it! Wonderful performance by absolutely everyone in the cast - the orchestra was great and their sound really worked with Verdi. I was wondering what it would be like with the OAE. We were there for the first performance with James Gaffigan and had nothing to compare it with - as we hadn't heard it under Mark Elder. Glyndebourne is magical anyway and I hope it isn't too long before we can afford to come back!!!

The revival of Falstaff was complete joy from start to finish. A clever and witty production with an outstanding cast

I really enjoyed this production and in marked contrast to Aridane(about which I daren't write a comment as I feel so strongly about the horrors of the production!)felt the updating worked well. Singing and orchetral playing were superb and I especially loved Laurent Naouri's sonorous singing and comic portrayal of Falstaff.

Production started slowly - as is proper - and inexorably built to its climactic last two scenes. A great success, with wonderful singing and lots of joyful comedy. The sheer artificiality of the opera itself was of no import to a wonderful evening. I did wonder whether Sir Mark and the OoAoE were perhaps paying rather little attention to the singers during the first Act but it all came together wonderfully later. We ignored the light rain! Thankyou everyone.

It was a nice experience. My guests ( who came from abroad) and I enjoyed the evening. Too bad the windy weather did not give us a break.
The performance and production were excellent. However it felt like a long wait between changing of seens. I would have preferred watching another Verdi opera though.
It would have been easier if the performance ended an hour earlier so we
could drive back to London in day light .

Bullseye! As good as it gets. "The best that can be done anywhere"

It risks invidiousness to single out any one contribution from a fabulous team performance, but, risking that, the revival director has performed stupendous things in raising the first production, which was very good, to the sublime. Such an approach to perfection takes disproportionate effort. The OAE /Mark Elder were revelatory.

A special mention, too, for the Garter Inn cat!!

We attended on 6th June, a cool but sunny day and thoroughly enjoyable. I adjusted to the production's 1940s setting quickly and felt only in the final scene was credibility perhaps too stretched.
It is a marvellous opera, I cannot understand why other commentators feel it to be lesser Verdi. It is very different from the "big tune" operas but so comic and quicksilver that it is clearly a masterpiece.

I am afraid I am one of those who does not share others enthusiasm for Falstaff much as I love Verdi's earlier music. I found the production thoroughly confusing (especially the last scene) and was very aggravated by the frequent scene changes. Falstaff's singing (and acting)deserves a special mention,as does Alice's. It is only the second time in many years that I have been disappointed in the evening. What was the point of the cabbage patch? The best scene was Falstaff's ducking - that was very effective. Of my three companions, three came away with lukewarm feelings. Sorry.

This was my first visit to Glyndebourne - and what a great production to see. Laurent Naouri inhabited the role from start and finish and was in fantastic voice. The cast was extremely strong, and great to witness orchestral playing under Sir Mark Elder at such proximity.
That said, arriving back in London an hour earlier would make a big difference when you live as far away as I do - but I guess that just means I need to go for back to back productions in 2014 and stay over in Sussex by the sea.

Wonderful, witty and joyful.

A fun evening as ever with faultless production standards, but I look forward to Glyndebourne giving us one of the musically more satisfying Verdi operas before too long. After 3 consecutive years of shivering through dinner it would be a joy to warm up with a really powerful musical treat.

We thoroughly enjoyed the performance of "Falstaff" last Sunday. We are not always so keen on "modern" productions
but this was certainly an exception. It kept the feel of the original theme. The work of the OAE was marvellous and the whole musical part was admirably conducted by Mark Elder in the pit. As always, congratulations to the chorus.
I have managed to come to at least one performance each year since 1952 - this was one to remember.
Keep up the good work!!

Michael & Ursula Moore.

What a wonderful performance! Singing and acting were great.If we could all deal with a comedy at the end of our lives - like Verdi- growing old would be less serious!

it was great to be back for my 56th season.
Falstaff was a delight from start to finish. Invidious to single out particular performances, but there were some real gems, the warmth and colour of Falstaff 's voice was perfect, the two main sopranos just first class

I really wanted to photograph it to show my children. The singing and music were beautiful. The singers were superb, especially Mistress Quickly, who was brilliant. The “fat suit” that Falstaff wore was hilarious and a genius idea. The over-titles were perfectly translated and I loved that the opera was set in the WW2 era. We ate at Middle and Over Wallop – marvellous. We took the bus for the first time and it worked very well. The sun shone.

Have seen this six times already this season and two more to come. Also saw it a good few times before when new and in the tour. The OAE are just superb in this repertoire and they must welcome a diversion from their usual Handel Mozart Purcell Rossini Monteverdi etc. Conductor and singers all first rate. One amusing blip back in May was on a very cold evening when it seems the chap with the bucket of water thoroughly soaked himself so we got no splash at the end of Act 2!
Alice, who often serves coffee at the long bar,(yes really Alice) has commented they need a second coffee machine.

Laurent Naouri completely inhabited the role, and was Falstaff. Loved every moment.

No complaint about the view of the stage from the cheapest seat (front foyer circle) but would have appreciated a view of the surtitles without having to contort myself. Particularly as the words were so funny. Any chance of a small secondary screen at the sides?

If evidence of booking the coach will now be required prior to boarding, could this be printed on tickets if booked together with the performance.

I don't usually like updates in 'modern dress' but this worked very well. I enjoyed both the music and the singers and found it funnier than I have previously. The last scene could have been spookier and less confusing: two people in my hearing didn't recognize Bardolfo as the second bride.
The weather was inclement and we really appreciated the transparent screening put up by our table.
Another very enjoyable Glyndebourne evening.

What a magical and perfect performance as always. The music and orchestra were spot on too. My wife and our guests enjoyed it too. We are looking forward to our next opera shortly, as always.
The atmosphere in the auditorium was very dry and hence some of the comments above about coughing during the performance!

June 8. Excellent production. Weather not pleasant for picknicing. Keep up the good work.

A quite good production and well sung. But I share Denis Forman's view that Falstaff is a poor opera and that more people pretend to like it and don't. What is there to like about it?

This production of Falstaff is a clever update which works, unlike many (of other operas, that is) that I have seen. The weather, the music, and the singing all made it another peerless Glyndebourne event. The English eccentricity of black tie in the middle of nowhere (figuratively, of course) seems to be eroded by persons appearing in what can only be described as casual wear (shirt and chinos) - hopefully this will not prove to be the thin end of the wedge!

The performance, the music and atmosphere was magic! Congratulations for a perfect evening enjoyed by my wife and our guests equally.
Looking forward to another fabulous season.

A truly memorable ocasion. Wonderful, wonderful voices, great acting in the most wonderful location. Many many thanks to all involved.

A great performance,superb musicianship singing & production.

There must be something wrong with me, as an opera I just don’t get Falstaff, despite being a Verdi fan. Probably because I feel it lacks the knock out arias of other Verdi operas such as La Traviata, Rigeleto, Nabucco etc. The singing was first class, the orchestra under Sir Mark Elder excellent, the production clever and the post WW 2 setting really worked, it had an upbeat tempo that carried it along well. I have only seen it once before, at Holland Park and felt the same. Perhaps I need to buy a DVD and watch it a couple of times and see if I can get into it. I still enjoyed it but just could not be bowled over the way I am by many operas. The night before I saw Verdi’s Don Carlos at the ROH with the singing and orchestra on a par with Falstaff, but the opera itself I found griping and it included more memorable arias. Judging by the boisterous applause and foot stamping at the curtain call of Falstaff he rest of the audience did get it. However it was still a well worthwhile enjoyable day for me and I look forward to the four more operas to go this season at Glyndebourne. Since Sunday I have spoken to an “opera fanatic” friend of mine and she doesn’t get Falstaff either, so perhaps I am not so odd.

Unlike Dr Jörg Ederle when I went for my double espresso towards the very end of the long interval they had beans. I have a strictly no alcohol regime in the long interval and replace it with a dose of caffeine to wake me up and help my concentration.

By the way why do so many ladies wear black at Glyndebourne, it is so dull for the summer. Ladies pluck up courage and add a splash of bright colours

Falstaff, Thursday. 6th June, 2013

I have to admit to never having taken to this production (despite its apparent popularity). The case for updating seems to me quite weak and Falstaff’s character is made the less interesting for it. I had hoped that this revival would put right certain particular failings, namely (i) Act 1/Scene 2 where the choreography of Ford’s cabbage patch is quite puerile (amateur musical comedy productions come to mind), and (ii) Act 3/Scene 2 where there is far too little magic or mystery with some rather galumphing action to no great purpose. My hopes were clearly in vain. What saved the evening, though, was the combination of Elder and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with some excellent singing (particularly from Falstaff and Alice Ford). Music-making of the highest quality, then – pity about the production, costumes and some of the staging.

Falstaff on 6 June was well cast and imaginatively staged. The splendid choice of OAE gave greater clarity and musicality which provided a lightness to the comedy which gave the female voices almost an equal chance to shine just as the sun shone for the picnic.A blissful evening for all

Super production, excellent soloists and the orchestra was as superb as always and the sun shone!

This production (significantly improved since 2009) was Glyndebourne at its very best. Conductor and orchestra were revelatory and the singing (and acting) uniformly superb. And after a magical Ravel last year I believe no opera house offers a finer musical experience when you eschew directors who perversely work against the grain of the opera.

By the way,contrary to one or two of the comments above,I believe 'Falstaff' is not only Verdi's greatest opera,but one of the finest works in the repertoire.

A good production, well sung, of a very poor opera. Give me the younger Verdi any day.

A really great evening at Glyndebourne yesterday. Like Robert Baty who commented earlier although a Verdi fan generally I used not to be so keen on Falstaff but now I really love it, so I would encourage him to keep trying. This is one of the best productions of it I have seen.

Charming production of Falstaff, with intetesting sets: the updating worked (as it so often does not). Love the cats! There did seem to be a more noticeable number of less formally dressed males (some extraordinarily so): I hope this is not the thin end of the wedge.

29th May: We had a wonderful evening, despite the grey-chilly-damp weather. The production was top-notch and setting Falstaff in 1946 got us away from the old Falstaffian cliches, creating no jarring notes at all. The Mildmay served a welcome tea and the Middle & Over Wallop gave us an excellent supper. What better way to spend a dull Spring evening.

Certainly a five star performance. The production made best sense of the story of all productions I have seen. I did miss the curtsy to the curtsy theme. Geraint Evans had a twinkle in his eye that has not been equalled and I miss the Elisabethan costume. Laurent Naouri was better than Dietric Fischer Dieskau or Gobbi.The Orchestra was suberb. I believe Mark Elder was worried about being too loud. Not at at all, but raced through Falstaff's ditty in the scene with Alice.

As always a humorous opera, without pretentions. Good singers (and acting very good as well!), excellent orchestra and conductor. Traditional direction like all the times I have seen it; I am always curious how it would be with Robert Carsen! Never saw this opera in a modern version. Again a wonderful Glyndebourne experience. together with Ariadne. Yearly visit with friends really worthwhile, coming all the way from the Netherlands! We look forward to October.

Brilliant

Posted on behalf of Robert Taussig

Despite the cold no very cold miserable weather we enjoyed an uplifting entertaining performance backed up by an excellent dinner in Netherwallop.

Posted on behalf of Nigel and Penny Brook

We were in the audience for the Falstaff performance on 1st June, with daughter and son-in-law. The total experience was a delight; the weather was perfect as well. Falstaff, Ford, Fenton and Mistress Quickly were superlative singers and actors; it was also noticeable that the whole cast were enjoying themselves so much. The hilarity in the Falstaff ducking scene seemed genuine! On a very trivial note, we felt that the cat should have a special curtain call of his own - a spotlight into the tree for a few seconds? I realise it was not the same cat, but even so.

The Carvery meal was delicious and we are so impressed with the annual improvements that indicate that there is continual imvestment in the facilities. I hope the new coach park is proving successful, resulting in greater Christie family privacy too. We look forward to enjoying the flower borders later in the season. Maybe a few hooks in the walls in the changing rooms would be a good idea?

A most memorable and enjoyable day.

This opera was just excellent, and worthy of the highest praise! It will stay in my thoughts forever.

WELL DONE GLYNDEBOURNE! for a memorable visit and one that I will always treasure!

A delightful evening thoroughly enjoyed by our party (including guests from Vienna)and what a good idea to have the OAE in the pit; the clarity of the musical lines was astonishing good. Bravo!

Thoroughly enjoyed the evening,however was disappointed that our restricted view tickets in the slips actually meant no view during some parts of the performance.. If the set, especially the tree had been placed a little further into the stage we may have been able to catch a glimpse of Falstaff! Please designers sit in the slips when planning the set!

A great evening of Verdi on Saturday. Laurent Naouri was particularly stunning as Falstaff. We enjoyed the 'Glyndebourne' touches - the Brownies, the cats - but most of all the music which was wonderful - enough to let us forget we were standing all the way!

A very enjoyable evening. A great production, and music good; but even with this quality, I struggle to make sense of the rather bitty and trite last scene. Not Glyndebourne's lack - but, I fear, Verdi's. However, it must be about the 20th time I have seen it and I can't remember a better version, except perhaps Rome in 1964. But I was younger and less choosy then!

The bonus was renting a picnic table - against the weather - and I will never again come without so doing. The service was nothing short of magnificent - as it always is at Glyndebourne.

The second time I have seen this production (and the film once!) and I loved it more than ever. A really excellent evening at Glyndebourne. Superb principals and magnificent playing under Sir Mark Elder.

David Wakefield

Quite the best evening we have had glydebourne in the 18 years we have been coming many congrats to all especially Mark Elder

Posted on behalf of Anthony Relf

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