Commedia lirica in three acts
Composer Giuseppe Verdi · Arrigo Boito
In Italian with German surtitles
Sunday, 13. July 2003
07:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Duration est. 3 hours · 1 Interval between 1. + 2. Akt and 3. Akt (est. 08:20 pm - 08:55 pm )
To List of Performances
- Musikalische Leitung
- Zubin Mehta
- Eike Gramss
- Bühne und Kostüme
- Gottfried Pilz
- Manfred Voss
- Sören Eckhoff
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Verdi's final opera – a grandiose comedy: the roly-poly roué Sir John writes the same love letter to two different women. Logically, this leads to plenty of turbulence on the stage. This jolly work of Verdi's old age reaches its high point in the recognition: "Everything on earth is a joke!" Ambrogio Maestri as Falstaff! A subtle production. Oh, Verdi lover, what more could you ask?
Act One, Scene One
Sir John Falstaff is staying at the "Garter Inn" in Windsor with his two servants, Bardolfo and Pistola. Dr Caius accuses the two servants of having made him drunk and then robbed him. They maintain their innocence of the charge and Falstaff adds his support, upon which Dr Caius, thoroughly angry, leaves the inn.
Falstaff does not have enough money left in his purse to settle his bill at the inn. For this reason the gallant knight has written love letters to two ladies who live in Windsor: Alice Ford and Meg Page, both of whom are married to rich men. Bardolfo and Pistola adamently refuse to bear the letters to their destinations as their honour will not allow them to take part in such a transaction. Upon this Falstaff gives them a moralizing sermon about honour, which as far as he is concerned is a word which is empty of all meaning and therefore of no practical use, and throws them out.
Act One, Scene Two
Falstaff's young page has delivered the letters to Alice and Meg and the two friends soon discover that they have both received the same declaration of love from Falstaff. Together with their neighbour, Mistress Quickly, and Alice's daughter, Nannetta, they plan to take their revenge on Falstaf.
In the meantime Bardolfo and Pistola inform Ford, Alice's jealous husband, of Falstaff's intentions. Dr Caius, whom Ford has chosen to be Nannetta's husband, joins in the angry tirade against Falstaff. Together they devise a plan which will enable them to pay Falstaff back and at the same time put Alice's fidelity to the test.
Against the background of all this excitement Nannetta and young Fenton manage to meet and pledge their love for each other.
Act Two, Scene One
In mock penitence, Bardolfo and Pistola beg their master's forgiveness and return to his service. Mistress Quickly brings the knight messages from Alice and Meg; she informs him that both are madly in love with him and that Alice has asked her to tell Falstaff that her husband is out from two till three every day. Falstaff assures Mistress Quickly that he will visit Alice punctually at that hour.
Scarcely has Mistress Quickly left but Bardolfo announces a second visitor. Using a false name and bearing wine and a purse full of silver, Ford introduces himself to Falstaff. He claims that he is in love with Mistress Ford but has been refused, and begs the knight to lay siege to her heart and thus weaken her virtue. Falstaff assures him that Alice will be lying in his hearts within half an hour, as he has learned from her when her husband will be absent from home. While Falstaff goes to get ready for his rendezvous, Ford is left alone to give vent to the tormenting jealousy to which he is prey.
Act Two, Scene Two
In Ford's house, Alice, Meg, Nannetta and Mistress Quickly are busy with the final preparations for the trick they plan to play on Falstaff; the plan is that Falstaff's rendezvous should be interrupted by the announcement of Ford's imminent return, which will make Falstaff fear for his life. Falstaff appears and begins to woo Alice. In accordance with their plan, Meg suddenly appears and announces that Ford is returning home; the two women conceal Falstaff behind a screen.
When, however, Mistress Quickly enters the room immediately afterwards with the same warning, the women realize that their game has become bitter earnest. And indeed, Ford, accompanied by Dr Caius, Fenton, Bardolfo and Pistola, storms into his house in the hope of surprising his wife's supposed lover. While the men turn the house upside down in their search, the women manage to hide Falstaff in a huge wash-basket, which they had placed at the ready. Alice orders the basket and its contents, including Falstaff, to be tipped into the Thames. When he sees this, Ford realizes that he has been wrong to suspect his wife of being unfaithful.
Act Three, Scene One
Falstaff seeks comfort in mulled wine after his involuntary bathe and philosophizes about life and the ways of the world. Mistress Quickly comes in with another message from Alice: the latter is inconsolable at the thought of Falstaff's mishaps and begs him to come to yet another rendezvous. Falstaff is to come into the park at midnight, disguised as the Black Hunter. Falstaff takes the bait yet again - much to the delight of Alice and her friends, who have watched the scene, concealed from view.
The women plan to frighten Falstaff that night in the supposedly haunted park. Ford also joins in the plot to take revenge on the knight and plans to announce the betrothal of his daughter Nannetta to Dr Caius that very night. Mistress Quickly overhears him planning this with Dr Caius and warns Nannetta and Alice.
Act Three, Scene Two
Shortly before midnight Fenton meets Nannetta, disguised as the queen of the Fairies, in the park. In order to thwart Ford´s plans, Alice disguises Fenton as a monk.
Alice and Falstaff have just met as the bell tolls for the twelfth time, when Meg announces the arrival of a horde of ghosts. While the women flee, Falstaff throws himself on the ground in sheer panic. The queen of the Fairies (Nannetta) and her entourage (townspeople of Windsor) discover Falstaff there, taunt him, urge him to repent his sins and beat him. Only when Falstaff recognizes Bardolfo amongst his masked tormentors does the mob finally leave him alone.
At the end of the masquerade, Ford announces the Queen of the Fairies´ betrothal to Dr Caius. A second couple, a heavily-veiled girl and a monk, also ask for Ford´s blessing. Only when Ford bids them all unmask does he realize that this second couple is his daughter and Fenton, whereas Dr Caius discovers Bardolfo under the mask of the Queen of the Fairies. Ford accepts defeat, blesses his daughter and joins everyone in agreeing with Falstaff that "Jesting is a man´s vocation. Wise is he who is jolly".
Translation: Susan Bollinger
© Bayerische Staatsoper
Premiere of Giuseppe Verdi's "Falstaff" on January 17, 2001 in the Nationaltheater
Falstaff in München
ML = Musikalische Leitung; IN = Inszenierung; B = Bühnenbild; K = Kostüme; Fa = Sir John Falstaff; Fo = Ford; Fe = Fenton; A = Alice Ford; N = Nannetta; Qu = Mrs. Quickly
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Zubin Mehta was born in 1936 and grew up in a musical family in his native Bombay. After first studying medicine for two semesters he concentrated on music in Hans Swarowsky's conducting class at the Vienna academy.
Zubin Mehta won the Liverpool International Conducting Competition in 1958 and was also a prize-winner at the Koussevitzky Competition in Tanglewood. By his mid-twenties he had already conducted both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras and retains close ties with both.
Zubin Mehta was Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra from 1961 to 1967 becoming Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in 1962, a post he retained until 1978. In 1969 he also became Music Adviser to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and was made Music Director of that orchestra in 1977. In 1981 he was made Music Director for life. Zubin Mehta has conducted nearly two thousand concert performances with this extraordinary ensemble on tours spanning five continents. In 1978 he became Music Director of the New York Philharmonic commencing a tenure lasting 13 years, the longest in the orchestra's history and, since 1985, he has been chief conductor of the Maggio Musicale in Florence.
Zubin Mehta made his debut as an opera conductor with Tosca in Montreal in 1964. Since then he has conducted at the Metropolitan Opera New York, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, and the opera houses of Montreal, Chicago and Florence as well as at the Salzburg Festival.
Zubin Mehta's list of awards and honours is extensive and includes the "Nikisch-Ring" from the Vienna Philharmonic as well as having been made, in 2001, an honorary member of the orchestra. He is an honorary citizen of both Florence and Tel Aviv and was made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera in 1997. In 1999 Zubin Mehta was presented the "Lifetime Achievement Peace and Tolerance Award" of the United Nations by Lea Rabin. In April 2001 President Chirac created him "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur". In January 2004 the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra bestowed the title of "Honorary Conductor" on Zubin Mehta.
Zubin Mehta has been Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera and the Bavarian State Orchestra from 1998 to 2006. Quite apart from his commitments and responsibilities for the musical leadership of new productions, repertory performances and concerts associated with this position, he has also led the State Orchestra on two major European tours and the whole opera company on tours to Japan.