viernes, 10 de mayo de 2019

Falstaff in Teatro Real, Madrid. May 7, 2019.

After the intense tragedy and solemnity in Otello, Giuseppe Verdi chose to bid his own farewell to music with a comedy, Falstaff, after William Shakespeare. An unusual register in his work catalogue (his only comedy after un Giorno di Regno, his first opera), Verdi's swansong is a taunt of society, and human condition, both in general as well as for aristocracy. Many operagoers find this work a bit difficult, specially after the final musical ecstasy and the dramatic devastation after Otello's death, as if nothing could come after. But Verdi's genius, such brilliant in his unforgettable dramas, is also able to create a comical masterpiece, heir of late opera buffa, full of irony and hilariousness and great musical moments; like the oboe solo in the ladies' reading of Falstaff's letters, the arias by Fenton and Ford or most of Act 3, in which Verdi's descriptive music recreates the magic and mistery of the night in the forest.

After 17 years of the last production of this opera in Madrid (in 2002, with Ambrogio Maestri and the well-famed Giorgio Strehler production from La Scala), Falstaff returns to Madrid in a production by Laurent Pelly. In this occasion, Pelly sets his drama in modern times, Falstaff being an old, decrepit, fat thug, and the Fords like a 60s upper-middle ancient family, as if they were taken from an old sitcom. Fenton and Nanetta are a young couple in love, always aroused and trying to liberate their passion in every corner to be about and finally caught. Pelly's aim is to that even in an ancient, boring and dark background, comedy and irony are possible. The curtain rises to show a small and gloomy tavern, which becomes bigger in later scenes. Ford's house is represented with laberintic, high old house stairs. Act 3 is, on the contrary, quite minimalistic, with few illumination and a green night-clouded sky, with a mirror representing the forest, coming and going fast to the stage when necessary.

Daniele Rustioni conducted the Teatro Real Orchestra with comical pulse, but not as scintillating as could be hoped from this opera. The orchestra improved as the performance was going by, and in third act it reached a good balance, with a mystical sound of the strings. The Chorus did a brief but fantastic performance, as usual.

The performance was sung by the second cast, being at a good level with some surprises.

Misha Kiria was revealed to be a well sung Falstaff, despite the voice could be a bit light for the role. His acting was excellent, both for his suitable physique-du-rôle like his humorousness. Ángel Ódena returns to Teatro Real with his powerful and big voice, and his scenical authority, quite acclaimed (in 2016 he was an unforgettable Iago in Alden's Otello and an amazing Germont in 2015) here. However, Ford is few role for such a voice, sounded quite loud for this character. One can't help to think of  what Leo Nucci could do in his place. Albert Casals has a nice voice, but not enough for Fenton: he has some difficulties in high notes, and  in the Act 3 aria he lacked some volume. A pity taking in account his good middle register and his adequate profile. The male supporting roles were well served, with Valeriano Lanchas with a deep dark bass voice as Pistola and the always accomplished Mikeldi Atxalandabaso as Bardolfo and Christophe Montaigne as Dr. Cajus.

As for the women, Teresa Iervolino was a sensation as Mrs. Quickly, with a beautiful and seductive mezzo-soprano voice and a great low contralto notes. Rocío Pérez was a nice Nannetta both physically and musically, despite being sometimes lacking a bit volume. Raquel Lojendio has a nice voice and better acting as Mrs. Ford and Gemma Coma-Alabert did well her part as Mrs. Page.

Despite not being the best Falstaff in the world, the audience enjoyed and applauded this funny performance, in which the most successful element was Verdi's music, containing his final message to the audience: In our lives, we have to laugh.

My reviews are not professional and express only my opinions. As a non English native speaker I apologise for any mistake.
Most of the photographs are from the internet and belong to its authors. My use of them is only cultural.

Any reproduction of my text requires my permission.

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