Falstaff (2006)

When Sir John Falstaff decides that he wants to have a little fun he writes two letters to a pair of Window wives: Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. When they put their heads together and ... See full summary »


Paola Longobardo


Arrigo Boito (libretto), William Shakespeare (after)


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Credited cast:
Ruggero Raimondi ... Sir John Falstaff
Manuel Lanza Manuel Lanza ... Ford
Daniil Shtoda Daniil Shtoda ... Fenton
Carlo Bosi Carlo Bosi ... Dr. Cajus
Gianluca Floris Gianluca Floris ... Bardolfo
Luigi Roni Luigi Roni ... Pistola
Barbara Frittoli Barbara Frittoli ... Mrs. Alice Ford
Mariola Cantarero Mariola Cantarero ... Nannetta
Elena Zilio Elena Zilio ... Mistress Quickly
Laura Polverelli Laura Polverelli ... Mrs. Meg Page
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino ... Orchestra e Coro
Zubin Mehta ... Self - Direttore


When Sir John Falstaff decides that he wants to have a little fun he writes two letters to a pair of Window wives: Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. When they put their heads together and compare missives, they plan a practical joke or two to teach the knight a lesson. But Mistress Ford's husband is a very jealous man and is pumping Falstaff for information of the affair. Meanwhile the Pages' daughter Anne is besieged by suitors.

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User Reviews

Rather lacking for me sadly
19 June 2012 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Verdi is one of my all-time favourite composers, and while Falstaff is not my favourite of his operas or even one of them it is a lot of fun and has wonderful music. Unfortunately, despite a promising cast, this Falstaff was lacking for me and my least favourite of about seven or eight productions of the opera I've seen. The orchestral playing is full of style and beautiful playing and Zubin Mehta as usual conducts with his usual alertness and authority(though if you want to see Mehta's Verdi conducting at its best, hear his 1969-70 recording of Il Trovatore). The nonnet, in ensemble singing and other musical aspects, is absolutely wonderful, and for me the highlight of the performance.

Of the performances, which I was generally not really bowled over by, the best were Barbara Frittoli and Mariola Cantarero. Frittoli is less mechanical than she can be, here she is very charming as Alice, but what was good about her performance was her beautiful singing and musicality(she is famous for her pianissimos and, while not the best role to show this, you can hear why here). Cantarero is a more matronly Nannetta than one would expect, but she still sparkles in the role overall and her singing, especially in the Fairy Song, is very fine.

However, I was disappointed by Ruggero Raimondi in the title role, who I have a lot of respect for as a singing actor, especially in roles like Don Giovanni and Scarpia. However, vocally he seems rather underpowered, especially in the lower register of the role, and long-in-the-tooth, and while his ugly stage make-up did him no favours he never did quite capture the wit and vulnerability of Falstaff. Manuel Lanza is a little better, he sounds great but he is rather stolid here as an actor(I have seen him before where he is involved like as Lescaut in the 2007 Teatro Del Liceu production of Manon) so it is not as easy to feel sorry for Ford.

GianLuca Floris and Luigi Roni are excellent vocally and dramatically as Bardolfo and Pistola, but their costumes are absolutely ludicrous so I am not surprised that they did look uncomfortable at times. Laura Polvarelli has a lovely voice as Meg Page but lacks the stage presence to make her truly memorable. Elena Zilio's Mistress Quickly is not conniving enough and her chest voice lacks weight, while Daniil Shtoda is a decent Fenton vocally, but is wooden in every other respect.

The production values and staging were the let downs here. Falstaff's stage make-up is the ugliest I have seen for the role and that is saying a lot for a character that is quite physically grotesque in the first place, while the ladies are made to dress in unflattering polyester frocks and Falstaff's followers are dressed as punks, which I didn't think really fitted even with the already unconvincing 1950s suburban setting(part of Falstaff's charm on stage was always the sumptuous Tudor decor for me). Luca Ronconi I don't really care for as an opera stage director, his 2000 Tosca for example with Guleghina, Licitra and Nucci promised more than it delivered, and my perception unfortunately hasn't changed. The comedy of the opera didn't come across as funny to me, and the working-closely-with-the-singers aspect that make other opera directors like Harry Kupfer, Gotz Friederich and Jean Pierre Ponnelle so good didn't come through enough here as not much is done to make the characters interesting. There are a couple of bright spots such as the Nonnet but those moments are too far and between.

Overall, I much enjoy the opera but found the production sadly lacking, a shame as I do like most of the singers from previous productions and recordings and Mehta. It's just that the production values, Ronconi's stage directing and the widely uneven performances really brought the side down. 4/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

May 2006 (Italy) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Rai 3, Rai Trade See more »
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