Monday, 6 July 2009


4/7/09, Glyndebourne

I take it all back about Falstaff. Saw it once, at Covent Garden, with Bryn Terfel, and thought it tuneless and humourless.

Actually it's really quite funny, especially in this production by Richard Jones, and it's not entirely tuneless: it's just that the tunes are rarely developed, explored or reprised.

You get the impression that by the time he wrote Falstaff Verdi was bored with conventional opera, a form he'd clearly mastered completely, and was anxious to try new things. And by and large succeeded.

I'm writing this up weeks after the event, so recall very little of the detail. Christopher Purves in a fat suit and safari suit was funny as Falstaff; some of the other visual memories include the mock-Tudor pub, the rows of cabbages and lettuces outside the 1930s semi where the Fords lived (designer Ultz); and some genuinely funny farcical business with people rushing on and off at the end of Act One, before Falstaff is tipped into the river. Act Two began with him being fished out of the orchestra pit (aka River Thames) and producing a spurt of water from his mouth.

Few clear memories of the last scene but it was effective.

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