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Joe Cadagin
Opera News, November 2012

VERDI, G.: Falstaff (Zurich Opera, 2011) (NTSC) 711108
VERDI, G.: Falstaff (Zurich Opera, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) 711204

The task of holding the production together…rests on the well-fed shoulders of Ambrogio Maestri in the title role. The naturally rotund and double-chinned baritone is ideal physically to play the knight.

…Maestri offers a lot vocally. His piano passages are particularly expressive, and he can add comic vocal effects without sacrificing musical lines.

As Alice, Barbara Frittoli has some shining moments. The Act III Black Huntsman story shows off her rich lower register…

Javier Camarena’s Fenton stands out among the rest of the principals. The Mexican tenor…has a flexible voice with plenty of well-placed shading…

As…Nannetta, Eva Liebau has a very sweet voice…Yvonne Naef plays a stylish and cat-like Mistress Quickly…conductor Daniele Gatti leads an excellent, well-organized “Tutto nel mondo è burla” fugue; every voice, human and instrumental, is perfectly distinguishable. © 2012 Opera News Read complete review

Christie Grimstad, August 2012

This Zurich Opera rendition, in the hands of Sven-Eric Bechtolf, really works. Somehow Rolf Glittenberg’s minimal set design allows a keener focus on the singers’ lyrical interpretations and incisive gesticulations. Video Director Felix Breisach uses nicely blended camera angles during poignant moments and wastes no time with extraneous details. The economically minded pacing of Falstaff is wonderfully addressed with excellent detail under conductor, Daniele Gatti.

The Set Designer’s wife, Marianne, brings to stage an amalgam of costuming from varying periods that’s both contemporary, yet traditional. It has pleasing connects. The couple has been working on European operatic stages for many years, and this particular production is no exception when it comes to a quality presentation.

The principal cast is first rate. Ambrogio Maestri’s corpulent clown comes across more as a buffo… instead of a lecherous fool, bringing about a higher degree of politesse. His beautifully driven baritone voice folds into many, if not all, characters with humorous reflect. Barbara Frittoli heads the female contingent with wonderful accentuations, that’s well supported within her quartet: Yvonne Naef’s Mistress Quickly is nuanced with diminutively feigned responses while Meg Page, sung by Judith Schmid, has eye popping and eye catching responses especially during the laundry basket escapades ending Act II. Eva Liebau possesses pristine and resilient qualities as Nannetta that are nicely matched with her betrothed Fenton, performed by Javier Camarena…The bumbling duo of Davide Fersini and Martin Zysset as Pistola and Bardolph, respectively, add amusing encounters with Falstaff, and their disappearance behind outside windows under tutelage of Bechtolf’s blocking is simple, yet pleasingly light and whimsical.

The adage, “Less is more”, aptly fits this Zurich Opera production. By far, extraneous details are put on the sidelines, allowing greater clarity and intended focus on the Shakespearean characters themselves and awash in the musical brilliance of Giuseppe Verdi. This Falstaff is a fabulous and entertaining visit to the opera without all the fluff. © 2012 Read complete review

Robert Benson, July 2012

…this new production from Stuttgart surely is among the finest. Staged by Sven-Eric Bechtoli with sets by Rolf Glittenberg, it is a visual delight with stark, simple sets in the first two acts, a magic forest scene of elves and witches for the third. And the cast is splendid in every way, particularly Ambrogio Malestri in the title role. Conductor Gatti keeps the intricate score moving swiftly. Seen on the Blu-Ray version, video is brilliant, audio well well-balanced. A quality issue in every way, if Falstaff is your cup of tea. © 2012 Read complete review

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