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.
A revival of the 2009 Festival production
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Supported by Lord and Lady Laidlaw
Dates & Times - Falstaff
|Date||Coach Departs||Start Time||Interval||Finish Time||Ticket Price Ranges|
|Sunday 19 May 2013||2:00pm||4:30pm||6:10 - 7:30pm||8:30pm||£165.00 - £205.00||Book Now|
|Friday 24 May 2013||4:00pm||5:45pm||7:25 - 8:45pm||9:45pm||£35.00 - £150.00||Book Now|
|Sunday 26 May 2013||2:00pm||4:30pm||6:10 - 7:30pm||8:30pm||£15.00 - £150.00||Book Now|
|Wednesday 29 May 2013||4:00pm||5:45pm||7:25 - 8:45pm||9:45pm||£75.00 - £150.00||Book Now|
|Saturday 1 June 2013||4:00pm||5:45pm||7:25 - 8:45pm||9:45pm||£45.00 - £205.00||Book Now|
|Thursday 6 June 2013||4:00pm||5:45pm||7:25 - 8:45pm||9:45pm||£150.00||Book Now|
|Sunday 9 June 2013||2:00pm||4:30pm||6:10 - 7:30pm||8:30pm||£165.00 - £205.00||Book Now|
|Saturday 15 June 2013||4:00pm||5:45pm||7:25 - 8:45pm||9:45pm||£195.00||Book Now|
|Saturday 22 June 2013||4:00pm||5:45pm||7:25 - 8:45pm||9:45pm|
|Please telephone the Box Office on +44 (0)1273 813813 to check for returned tickets.|
|Thursday 27 June 2013||4:00pm||5:45pm||7:25 - 8:45pm||9:45pm||£165.00 - £205.00||Book Now|
|Thursday 4 July 2013||4:00pm||5:45pm||7:25 - 8:45pm||9:45pm||£165.00 - £205.00||Book Now|
|Tuesday 9 July 2013||4:00pm||5:45pm||7:25 - 8:45pm||9:45pm||£165.00 - £205.00||Book Now|
|Sunday 14 July 2013||2:00pm||4:30pm||6:10 - 7:30pm||8:30pm||£165.00 - £205.00||Book Now|
|Wed 19 Jun||1:00pm|
If you are a cinema venue and are interested in screening our productions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Falstaff will be streamed online from 17 June 2013
Full details will be posted here in due course. Recorded live in 2009.
Cast and Creative Team from the 2009 Festival
Conductor Vladimir Jurowski
Director Richard Jones
Lighting Designer Mimi Jordan Sherin
Movement Director Linda Dobell
London Philharmonic Orchestra
The Glyndebourne Chorus
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Conductor Mark Elder
James Gaffigan (4, 9, 14 July)
Director Richard Jones
Revival Director Sarah Fahie
Lighting Designer Mimi Jordan Sherin
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