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Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, November 2013

Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was John Pritchard’s conducting. More often than not, Pritchard was a steady, competent but remarkably sober-sounding conductor on records, but here in a live setting he imparts a surprising degree of life and zest to the proceedings.

The late Donald Gramm…is an altogether fascinating Falstaff.

The comic gesticulating in this performance is rightly reserved for Dr. Cajus and Falstaff’s two latter-day “associates,” Bardolph and Pistol, and again the singing actors portraying these roles do a first-rate job…Yet where this production really shines…is in the consistently excellent singing and acting of the four ladies, and I found it interesting that except for Elizabeth Gale…I had never heard of any of them…Kay Griffel is…terrific, and so are Reni Penkova (Meg Page) and Nucci Condo (Dame Quickly)…All four women are superb actresses, and they do something that few Falstaff casts manage to do, which is to make the written-out laughter on pitch actually sound like laughter.

Yet what makes this Falstaff work so brilliantly and still impress us today is the superb direction of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. What superb stage work this is! How well he directs his cast, brings out animation as well as naturalness, and pulls everything together!

…this is certainly a Falstaff you will want to own…the acting and direction here are an excellent alternative, and one cannot say enough good things about the singing of Gramm and the four ladies. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

David Shengold
Opera News, September 2013

No complaints about the London Philharmonic…it’s quite an enjoyable performance…Ponnelle had a fine visual sense…the complicated interactions Boito’s libretto demands are well worked out.

Gramm provided extraordinary verbal clarity and nuance, seemingly in any language…Gramm listens, and he motivates everything Sir John says and does.

Like Gramm, Luxon relished words; as Ford, he allows us to do the same, offering finesse in phrasing, dynamic subtlety and good sound…In Luxon’s hands, Ford’s disguise as Master Brook is, for once, credible and amusing. He, Gramm and Nucci Condò, the Quickly, all work well in detailed close-up; the successive scenes between Falstaff and Quickly and Falstaff and Ford are directed and played uncommonly well.

Kay Griffel looks and sounds lovely…as a mischievous Alice. Condò’s lively, relatively youthful Quickly is a compelling, complex vocal construct encompassing crisp words, straight tone and chest tone. Reni Penkova’s Meg is highly satisfactory. © 2013 Opera News Read complete review

Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, August 2013

The sets, confined as they are by the small stage of the old Glyndebourne opera house, are atmospheric and realistic. The painted backdrops showing scenes across the mediaeval town of Windsor are lovely to look at as well as providing context for the production. The ensemble achieved by the cast…is something wonderful to behold. These singers have lived in their roles for long enough that everything comes naturally to them, and there is never the slightest suggestion of exaggerated mugging or hamming for comic effect. The characters take themselves totally seriously, and it is this very ability to behave as if what they were doing was not intended to be humorous that makes their behaviour all the more amusing.

Altogether this re-release is most welcome. Falstaff has been a lucky opera on video, with many recommendable productions available, but this must be counted among the best of them. © MusicWeb International Read complete review

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