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  1. #1
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Falstaff at the Wiener Staatsoper

    Falstaff, comic opera in three acts, sung in Italian
    Music by Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)
    Libretto adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV, parts 1 and 2. The work premiered on 9 February 1893 at La Scala, Milan.

    This review is of the performance on June 30, 2018, attended in person at the Wiener Staatsoper in Vienna, Austria

    For more information and tickets, consult www.wiener-staatsoper.at

    This article is part of the Opera Lively coverage of opera houses in the German-speaking area of Central Europe in the Summer of 2018 - see the links to numerous other reviews, interviews, pictorial blogs, and other articles related to this coverage, by clicking [here]

    Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper conducted by Tomáš Netopil
    Chor der Wiener Staatsoper

    CONDUCTOR James Conlon
    DIRECTOR David McVicar
    SET DESIGN Charles Edwards
    COSTUMES Gabrielle Dalton
    LIGHTING Paul Keogan
    MOVEMENT DIRECTOR Leah Hausman
    CHORUS MASTER Martin Schebesta

    Falstaff - Opera Lively interviewee Ambrogio Maestri
    Ford - Opera Lively interviewee Christopher Maltman
    Fenton - Jinxu Xiahou
    Alice Ford - Olga Bezsmertna
    Nannetta - Hila Fahima
    Mrs. Quickly - Monika Bohinec
    Meg Page - Margaret Plummer
    Bardolfo - Herwig Peccoraro
    Pistola - Ryan Speedo Green
    Dr. Cajus - Benedikt Kobel

    Silent roles

    Robin (Falstaff's Page) - Emil Lang
    Doll Tearsheet (a prostitute) - Marion Grill - this role was added to this production; it doesn't exist in the original

    ----------

    Verdi's last opera has a masterful score that delights musicologists. It is one of only two comedic operas by Verdi, and another fruit of the outstanding collaboration between the composer and one of the best librettists in the business. Even though it never achieved sufficient popularity, it is widely considered to be a masterpiece.

    This traditional production at the Wiener Staatsoper had not much of a Regie concept (except by adding another silent role; see below), and for David McVicar the sets were a bit underwhelming. For most scenes they used two large wooden sets of stairs on the left and right side, and a catwalk linking them; these stairs seemed a bit out of place and weren't good-looking. The background was a generic brick wall. Or else, we had Falstaff's messy room, also pretty bland. For the final scenes, the sets got to be a bit more attractive with a large oak three and the projection of a full moon on the background. I'd give these sets a B-. You can see the last act's sets in this curtain call picture taken by Opera Lively:

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    Costumes were better, with imaginative creatures for the final scene and rather enticing costumes for the characters. A+. Choreography and blocking were expertly done, A+.

    I wasn't very happy with the sound produced by the orchestra, unlike two days ago. The brass and percussion on the right side of the pit were really loud, and smothered the other sections of the orchestra, as well as the singers. I wonder why James Conlon didn't correct this imbalance, and it surprised me to see a glitch like this from one of the best opera orchestras in the world. B-.

    Acting wise Maestri was very good except that he didn't really seem frightened in the last scenes. Maybe he's done it so often, he seemed a bit blasé. I didn't feel that Chris Maltman was his usual self either. B+.

    The singing on the other hand, just like in Der Freischütz, was excellent across the board, with strong performances from our star guest artists Maestri and Maltman, and very good support for all the other roles, all manned by singers from the Wiener Staatsoper's ensemble. A++, saving the evening, given that I was less pleased with the other elements.

    The stage director chose to add a prostitute that interacts silently with Falstaff in various occasions. The young woman cast for this role is extremely pretty. Other than the eye candy factor, I'm not sure what else comes from this choice; maybe showing the one person who actually seemed to care for Falstaff.

    Overall, I'd say A-, with the A++ singing and the A+ theatrical elements pushing up the grade, from a less than thrilling production (B-) and an orchestra surprisingly unbalanced (B-).

    Still, I enjoyed it, but there was one last touch that was a bit of a spoiler. My seat belonged to the last row of a section, so there was a corridor behind me. During the curtain calls, several patrons stood up to applaud the singers. I did too. Suddenly someone slaps me hard on my back. An angry lady walked to my seat and slapped me, and started to yell at me that my standing up was preventing her from seeing the curtain calls.

    I said, "Bravo for ruining the experience with your rudeness. I'd never treat someone like this. By the way, look at all the other people standing." She said "You don't know how to behave in an opera house." Well, that's a first. I've been to dozens of different opera houses in the world in multiple countries, including, to interview some 260 singers, directors, conductors, and composers. I'd say that I do possess sufficient opera etiquette. This has never happened anywhere, in all the countries and opera houses that I've visited. Apparently this lady is unfamiliar with the concept of a standing ovation. In any case, if by any chance in Vienna this is not customary (although like I said other patrons stood up too; but maybe less numerous than in the United States), it doesn't give her the right to assault me. I don't know what the Austrian laws are, but in my country I could have her arrested and charged with battery. Unreal! Grade F for this lady...
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); June 30th, 2018 at 10:30 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  3. #2
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Pictorial Blog, pictures of beautiful Vienna

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    Wiena Staatsoper

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    More pictures are on the other Vienna thread
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    This thread now contains the review of the performance. Scroll up.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Well that's a bummer. Of course you can stand up.!
    Natalie

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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Seeing the curtain calls?? I've never heard of such a thing. What a rude, obnoxious witch. If there's anyone who doesn't know how to behave in an opera house, it's she. I'm sorry her behavior spoiled what sounded like a generally enjoyable evening.

  9. #6
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Well I've stood up and applauded at curtains calls at Wiener Staatsoper and Theater an der Wien so it's not a Viennese 'thing' to sit during the curtain calls. It was just one rude woman and what a disgrace that she actually assaulted you.
    " … if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it."
    Roald Dahl

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