Sunday, October 13, 2013
Falstaff at the San Francisco Opera
There are three very good reasons to see Verdi's final opera, Falstaff, at the San Francisco Opera this month, and two of them are in the photo above by Cory Weaver. Bryn Terfel in the title role gives one of the greatest acting and singing performances in the world as the fat, old, delusional English knight. Meredith Arwady as Mistress Quickly, the fixer for the Merry Wives of Windsor, has a mezzo-soprano that turns into a low contralto so deep and powerful it sounds like she's channeling the incomparable Ewa Podles. The final reason to attend is for the gorgeous orchestra playing under Music Director Luisotti, who clarifies a host of details in the unusually complex score.
The only drawback is a dull, unimaginative production by Frank Philipp Schlossmann borrowed from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and even clunkier direction by Olivier Tambosi. The finale of the opera is supposed to be funny and magical and overwhelmingly beautiful but is instead a confused mess where you can't tell what's happening to anyone and could care less even if it was comprehensible. The production isn't fatal, though, and the rest of the cast is very good. Click here to check out tickets for the final five performances.