This first-rate 1982 production of Verdi’s Falstaff marked the great 20th century Italian maestro Carlo Maria Giulini's return to opera conducting after more than a decade's absence. Renato Bruson leads a brilliant cast as the lovable fat knight Sir John Falstaff, going toe to toe in a series of hijinks with Katia Ricciarelli (Alice Ford) and Brenda Boozer (Meg Page).
Falstaff brought Verdi’s brilliant career as an opera composer to a close with a burst of laughter. Resurrecting Mozartian opera buffa and bringing a beloved Shakespearean character back to the stage, the work's retrospection is tempered by its truly innovative construction, anticipating Strauss’s preferred idiom of “conversation through music” and favoring plot and character interactions over virtuosic showpieces. The tale begins when Sir John Falstaff, nicknamed “il Pancione” (Potbelly), comes up with the idea for what he expects to be an easy way to pay off his drinking debts: seducing two rich married women. Quickly discovering his trickery, the ladies in question plan vengeance, laying a trap for him and at the same time helping two young lovers outwit an overbearing father.
Photo: Renato Bruson and Katia Ricciarelli in Falstaff