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Playful Wit with Serious Undertones in the Salzburg Festival’s Falstaff Production

24 MAY 2013

published in: Opera

Zubin Mehta (Photo: Roland Horvath)
The first rehearsals for Verdi’s Falstaff in Damiano Michieletto’s production took place already during the spring. The production has its premiere on July 29 at the Haus für Mozart. With his last work, the almost 80-year-old Verdi fulfilled his own urgent wish to compose one last comic opera. Under this comedy’s playful surface, serious topics like social exclusion, age and ageing are revealed. In his production of Falstaff, Damiano Michieletto aims to make this ambiguous dimension visible, without losing any of the action and wit. The 38-year-old Italian stage director sees Falstaff as a kind of aged Don Giovanni: “There are analogies not only between the two figures, but also between the libretti by Da Ponte and Arrigo Boito. Ford calls Falstaff an ‘old seducer’, and there is also a scene where he is described as fancying all women, ‘no matter if they are beautiful or ugly’. How could one not think of Leporello’s Catalogue Aria?"
Falstaff is equally debauched as Don Giovanni, determined not to follow the rules. “Respectable” people consider him a danger and develop unimagined creativity when it comes to punishing him. Damiano Michieletto sets out to show how much these upstanding citizens require an outsider like the fat cavaliere in order to spice up their lives and escape from their dreary everyday existence.
There are many reasons to look forward to the Salzburg Falstaff production, for Michieletto has developed an extraordinary concept, blurring the boundaries between reality and dream, between present and past.
Ambrogio Maestri, an outstanding Sir John Falstaff, will perform during the summer. Unfortunately, his health did not permit him to participate in the rehearsal we filmed: Elia Fabbian stepped in at short notice. Massimo Cavalletti appears as Ford and Fiorenza Cedolins as his wife. The young pair of lovers will be embodied by Eleonora Buratto and Javier Camarena. Mrs. Quickly will be sung by the breathtaking Austrian contralto Elisabeth Kulman. Zubin Mehta conducts.
Secure your tickets for Verdi’s Falstaff at the 2013 Salzburg Festival now. Further information and tickets are available here.
And if you’d like a glimpse behind the scenes, watch our video from the first rehearsals at the Schüttkasten: