Sir John Falstaff is in love with two married ladies – albeit chiefly because he covets their husbands’ fortunes. When he dispatches a pair of identical love letters to them, he fails to reckon for the two friends’ discovering his duplicity, nor that his own companions might double-cross him for the same pecuniary motivations as his own. With the women seeking revenge on one side of the stage and their men thirsting for vengeance on the other, Falstaff finds himself caught within a trap of his own making. Rollicking and rambunctious, Falstaff abounds with a sense of merriment and good will.
Falstaff (1893) is Giuseppi Verdi’s twentieth-eighth and final opera, composed when he was almost eight decades old. With the exception of the unpopular Un giorno di regno from some fifty-thee years earlier, it is his only comic work. Based on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, a loose sequel to the Henry IV plays that allowed one of the Bard’s most vibrantly droll characters to ride again, Falstaff stands at the peak of the comic genre.
Updated to a grandiose post-war hotel, Carsen’s Falstaff augments Verdi and Shakespeare with a commentary on aristocratic decline and the rise of youth culture.
Carsen is thorough, and his work operates on both a large and a small scale: an acute sensitivity to textual subtleties are matched by elaborate stage sets. Carsen always does justice to the humour of his texts. He is a brilliant director of movement around the stage, making his comedic scenes genuinely side-splitting.
|Falstaff, Royal Opera House
|Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP
|Covent Garden (underground)
06 Jul 15 – 18 Jul 15, 7:30 PM – 10:15 PM
|Click here to book via the Royal Opera House’s website