2006 Florence
Release datum:
Sir John Falstaff Ruggero Raimondi
Ford, Alice’s husband Manuel Lanza
Fenton Daniil Shtoda
Dr. Cajus Carlo Bosi
Bardolfo Gianluca Floris
Pistola Luigi Roni
Mrs. Alice Ford Barbara Frittoli
Nannetta Mariola Cantarero
Mrs. Quickly Elena Zilio
Mrs. Meg Page Laura Polverelli

Assistant Stage Director: Ugo Tessitore · Set Design: Margherita Palli
Costume Design: Carlo Maria Diappi · Lighting Design: Guido Levi

Coro del Orchestra e Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Zubin Mehta

Stage Director
Luca Ronconi

In the regular series of recordings from the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, TDK releases Verdi’s farcical opera Falstaff under the direction of the renowned Festival’s artistic director, Zubin Mehta. The Maggio Musicale in Florence is the oldest and one of the most famous music festivals in Italy. It was founded in 1933 and features two months of opera, concerts, ballet and exhibitions. The festival remained closed during the war, and thus will celebrate its 70th edition in 2007. The 69th edition of the festival celebrated the 70th birthday of its director, Zubin Metha and TDK joins in the congratulations with this DVD recording of a new staging directed by Luca Ronconi, who in turn, was celebrating 30 years of collaboration with the Maggio Musicale.

The main characters are sung by leading exponents of their respective roles, including Barbara Frittoli, who sang Alice in the production that marked the reopening of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The action revolves around Ruggero Raimondi, one of the foremost Falstaffs of recent years. Raimondi first sang the role, one of a small number of purely baritone parts in his repertoire, in 1986, and then waited until the end of the 1990s before taking it up again under Claudio Abbado in Berlin. He values the part for the way Falstaff “takes part in the action both comically and dramatically, and perhaps this is the real strength and beauty of the role.”

Adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff was Verdi's last opera and one of his few comedies. It was also the third of Verdi's operas to be based on a Shakespearean play, and like his first adaptation of the English playwright, Macbeth, it concludes with a fugue, the famous "Tutto nel mondo è burla" ("All the world's a joke"). The successful first performance took place at La Scala in Milan in 1893. While not as immensely popular as the works that immediately preceded it (Aida and Otello) Falstaff’s refinement and melodic invention have made it a long term favourite with both artists and audience.

Tradition has it that Queen Elizabeth I wanted to see Sir John Falstaff, Prince Hal's debauched companion in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, in love. The result was the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which Falstaff’s attempts to seduce the wives of wealthy tradesmen, on the one hand, and the revenge that the wives exact, on the other, juxtaposes the knight’s fading chivalry with the emerging middle class.

The domesticity of the setting is very like that of a contemporary sitcom, where Alice Ford represents the perfect, desirable housewife and Ford the eternal jealous husband. This has made it easy to transfer the subject to our own time.

Luca Ronconi’s production for the 2006 Maggio Musicale Fiorentino takes advantage of this, finding ready equivalents for Shakespeare’s Windsor in both the social context and imagery of modern Britain – an enjoyable comedy and a musical feast for home-viewing.

    Sound Formats DD 5.1, DTS 5.1, PCM-STEREO Picture Format 16:9 Subtitles GB, D, F, I, E, Number of Discs 1 Running Time 128min