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WNO's "Falstaff," part II

Herewith I'm wrapping up the Falstaff coverage, since my review, as promised, ran in today's paper.

Another review comes from Charles Downey on

I'd be curious to hear from anyone else who went, or is going, to the Washington National Opera production -- particularly with regard to how you think the director handled the production (since stage direction in opera has been a hot topic lately).

I'd also be curious to hear about other notable "Falstaffs," either productions or recordings.

To start the conversation, here's a gem: Anna Moffo singing Nannetta.

By Anne Midgette  |  October 13, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  local reviews , opera  
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Next: The New Sound of Music


I loved the staging. That said, it almost felt like the last ten minutes were from another show because the slapstick had been turned up so much (with the drag ballerinas et al...). It did come across a little Trocks-Lite but I enjoyed it.

Posted by: ianw2 | October 13, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

I think the staging got better in the 2nd and 3rd acts. As for my other Falstaffs, the only other that I heard live was Bryn Terfel at the Met. On CD there's Gobbi, of course, and I recently listened to a live recording with one of my favorite buffos, Fernando Corena, in the title role. This is a live performance conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini featuring the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and while Corena's portrait is not as rounded as that of Gobbi, it is enjoyable nonetheless. Gobbi's Falstaff is an imperfect human geing; that of Corena is of a pompous fool.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | October 13, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Since the conductor is Sebastian Lang-Lessing, let me take the opportunity to recommend his recordings of the symphonies of Guy Ropartz, a wonderful first rate second rate composer (or kleinmeister, whatever) whose music always shows his Breton influences. Anybody who likes the symphonies of Chausson and Franck should enjoy those of Ropartz. Yes, airchecks of the works by such conductors as Charles Bruck or Charles Munch (a Ropartz pupil) are better than those of Lang-Lessing, and the above-mentioned works by Chausson and Franck are superior. But there's a lot to enjoy in the Ropartz symphonies.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | October 13, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I posted a comment as soon as I read the review online, but it seems to have been lost. It was simply to congratulate the reviewer on what seemed to me the rightness of both her remarks on the opera and her opinions about the production. I went on to say that such fine reviewing is rare and ought to be prized.

Posted by: earshape | October 13, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, Ms. Midgette is a first-rate reviewer destined to hear/see and review minor league performances: i.e., those heard/seen in D.C.

She does a brave turn here in this review, making a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Weak principals, baleful orchestra playing, etc., but a fun staging.

Spare me.

Posted by: JohnRDC | October 13, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Not all of the opera performances, in Washington, D.C., by the Washington National Opera and the Mariinsky Opera Theater of Saint Petersburg (which visits annually - for at least a few more years), are minor league.

The above statement is ridiculous.

For many years, the Washington National Opera had a strong ethos of excellence; and arts customers – regional and visiting - almost each season could encounter one or more opera productions and performances that were comparable to those in San Francisco, Chicago, Berlin, and Saint Petersburg – if not exactly the Metropolitan Opera, with its huge budget and access to the top international stars, conductors, and designers.

But yes, I would perhaps grant that the Washington National Opera – directed by a singer and conductor in charge of two opera companies on two national coasts – has recently lost its focus on excellence – as has the Kennedy Center and the National Symphony Orchestra. (It doesn’t help that the Kennedy Center will probably give an arts award next year to Sir Mick Jagger, rather than to Joan Baez.) I do expect, however, that the performances, next March, of Prokofiev’s “War and Peace,” by the Mariinsky Opera Theater conducted by Valery Gergiev and the Verdi Requiem by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington Chorus under Christoph Eschenbach, will again represent excellence in the performing arts.
Whether this will be sustained is an open question.

Non-Kennedy Center based classical music, in Washington, D.C., such as the Washington Bach Consort under J. Reilly Lewis and Maryland’s past annual International Handel Festivals, is definitely not minor league.

Posted by: snaketime1 | October 14, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Singing: OK

Staging: Not as impressed.

JohnRDC: Try getting up on the right side of the bed.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | October 19, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

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