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The first rehearsals for Verdi's "Falstaff" in Salzburg

11 APR 2013

published in: Opera

Massimo Cavalletti, Fiorenza Cedolins (Photo: rocafilm)
Anyone walking into the orchestra rehearsal space at Schüttkasten around Eastertide was greeted by a pre-taste of the summer’s Festival atmosphere: from March 20 to April 6, the first rehearsals for Verdi’s Falstaff took place here for the premiere on July 29 at the Haus für Mozart. Before rehearsals resume at the end of June, the Italian stage director Damiano Michieletto also makes his debut at La Scala Milan with Un ballo in maschera – making this a Verdi year for him too. In the case of Falstaff, the 38-year-old is keen to show how desperately upstanding and proper citizens require an outsider like the fat cavaliere in order to spice up their lives and escape from their dreary everyday existence: the Salzburg production will suffer no shortage of theatrical enthusiasm, action and wit! Like all good comedies, however, Verdi’s last opera also has an ambiguous dimension. Verdi was almost 80 years old when he composed Falstaff, and the piece is also about subjects like old age and ageing. Michieletto has come up with an extraordinary concept for this, blurring the boundaries between reality and dream, present and past.

Audiences may look forward to an intriguing, tension-filled production, presented by a cast that is mainly Italian: the title role will be embodied by Ambrogio Maestri, to whom the role of Falstaff has almost become an alter ego – his Salzburg Festival debut will be his 20th new production of this opera! Unfortunately, his health did not permit him to participate in the first run-through with piano conducted by Zubin Mehta on April 6, so Elia Fabbian stepped in at short notice. Massimo Cavalletti, whom Salzburg audiences will remember fondly from last year’s Bohème, appears as the jealous Ford, a role he has already performed as a guest at La Scala. Alice will be sung by the soprano Fiorenza Cedolins from the Friuli region, and the young pair of lovers Nannetta and Fenton will be embodied by the blooming voices of Eleonora Buratto and the Mexican tenor Javier Camarena. Mrs. Quickly, a role traditionally taken on by singers neither in the first prime of youth nor of slight stature, is cast “against the grain”: in Salzburg, the breathtaking Austrian contralto Elisabeth Kulman rises to the occasion – and that makes even Falstaff’s eyes pop!

Some impressions (copyright: rocafilm):


Elia Fabbian, Fiorenza Cedolins

Eleonora Buratto, Damiano Michieletto, Elia Fabbian


Elia Fabbian, Massimo Cavalletti

Javier Camarena, Eleonora Buratto, Statisterie

Massimo Cavalletti, Fiorenza Cedolins

Zubin Mehta