Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Falstaff at Opera Delaware

Yesterday I wrote about Opera Delaware's intense and beautiful production of Amleto, and today is my time to write about their perfectly delightful production of Falstaff. Although it is unknown whether the two operas were chosen for this reason, Opera Delaware has made a lot of the fact that these are Arrigo Boito's first and last completed opera libretti. All I know is they're both great operas.

Sean Anderson as Ford and Steven Copley as Falstaff
Photo:  Moonloop Photography
One goes to a Falstaff performance expecting to be delighted by comedy high jinx and amazed by great singing and acting. Opera Delaware's production did not disappoint. In Steven Condy, we had a Sir John Falstaff who was appropriately blustery and self absorbed, while remaining likable and vulnerable. His skillful singing was certainly plain to all, and his solo passages were quite memorable.  By the end one was more sympathetic toward an old fool than bitter toward an old would-be Lothario, so that we were all on board for the final, rousing chorus.

Equally well sung and acted was the Ford of Sean Anderson. Just as proud and full of bluster as Falstaff--probably more, since the times and his own hard work have granted him close to equal social position--Ford is another baritone full of pride and bluster and, in the end, not all that bright.

Maariana Vikse as Meg Page, Sharin Apostolou as Nanetta,
Ann McMahon Quintero as Mistress Quickly and
Victoria Cannizzo as Alice Ford
Photo: Moonloop Photography
Alice Ford, as sung by Victoria Cannizzo, was also a delight, full of spunk and charm and great vocal skill. Her pals, Maariana Vikse as Meg Page and Ann McMahon Quintero as Mistress Quickly, were another treat to see and hear.  Ms. Quintero was especially endearing as the flirtatiously matronly Quickly. Real-life couple Ryan McPherson and Sharin Apostolou as Fenton and Nanetta were simply adorable. Both are highly accomplished singers and actors, so of course one enjoyed every moment they were on stage.

One of my favorite parts of Falstaff is Verdi's remarkably skilled writing in the large ensembles, where the male characters usually sing together, with music of one character and texture. The female characters have similar independence, with a melodic and rhythmic passages that are their own and might seem to collide with, but actually coincide with those of the men. Fenton and Nanetta observe and sing their own melodic line that transcends all the others. Sidekicks Matthew Curran as Pistola and Jeremy Blossey as Bardolfo completed a quite fine cast of principals.

Jeremy Blossey as Bardolfo, Ryan MacPhereson as Fenton,
Sharin Apostolou as Nannetta, Matthew Curran as Bardolfo
Photo: Moonloop Photography
I rather think conductor Giovanni Reggioli handled all of this chaos successfully. There might have been one or two moments that were a tiny bit ragged, but in a score of this size and complexity, that's quite an accolade! Also successful were stage director Dean Anthony, set designer Peter Tupitza, and all of the rest of the technical team.

Falstaff will be performed again next weekend in Wilmington. I hope you'll go see it!

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