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Charles H Parsons
American Record Guide, November 2013

Maestri is a preeminent Falstaff these days. His mirthful girth…his rotund voice, and comic gifts make him a perfect protagonist. Cavalletti is a fine foil to Maestri. Slim of stature with a big, ringing baritone voice, he rages and raves to fine effect…As the chief merry wife, Alice, Frittoli owns the role and sings with grace and aplomb. Liebau and Camarena are a fine pair of lovers… Ensembles are ship-shape and bubble merrily under Gatti’s knowledgeable direction. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

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

Robert J Farr
MusicWeb International, September 2012

Verdi’s orchestration in Falstaff, with its final fugue, represents challenges to even the best of the conductors with a natural feel for the Verdian melodic line and idiom. In this performance, Danielle Gatti, Music Director of the Orchestre National de France as well as Zurich Opera, brings the strands of the music together in a masterful way, allowing the humour to flow and zip along with a mixture of vitality and élan whilst always aware of the needs of the singers; big pluses in this work.

Add a singing cast led by Ambrogio Maestri in the title role and Barbara Fritolli as Alice Ford and there is a lot going for this performance…Maestri…certainly dominates the stage physically and, more importantly he also does so vocally. A true baritone in his vocal prime he is a pleasure to hear after too many geriatric singers with threadbare tone essaying the role. Maestri’s varied facial contortions match his wide variety of vocal colour and nuance. I cannot remember when I last heard a singer able to go from sotto voce, including falsetto on a thread of tone, to forte with such seamless ease. His strength of voice, without any spread, in Falstaff’s Honour Monologue as he harangues Bardolph and Pistol (CH.4) exemplifies the singer’s many vocal virtues.

To Maestri’s masterful performance I must add that of Barbara Fritolli as Alice. Dressed…in a lovely late twentieth century style blue couture dress, with plunging neckline which suits her figure to perfection, she sings with refulgent tone and excellent characterisation to add to her committed acting. As her daughter, Eva Liebau has the ideal lightness of voice and floats some lovely phrases. Judith Schmid as Meg, also dressed elegantly as befits a Windsor lady, and Yvonne Naeff as Quickly, are more than adequate, the latter acting particularly well. Massimo Cavalletti’s Ford is sung with secure tone and variety of colour to add to his vocal strength in his monologue of jealousy…

The associated booklet has an essay with some background to the opera as well as views of the conductor and director seeking to justify their take on the opera. This, and an act-by-act synopsis, undivided by scenes, is given in English, German and French. The video director manages his duties with a nice balance. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Lawrence Devoe, July 2012

Giuseppe Verdi’s last opera, Falstaff, is felt by many to be this composer’s crowning achievement. I would go even further by considering this work a near-perfect realization with regard to dramatic balance…characterization, and most importantly the melding of music with words.

Maestro Daniele Gatti leads the Zurich Opera orchestra and chorus in a performance staged by Sven-Eric Bechtolf…Comic bass-baritone Ambrogio Maestri has the appropriate physique and vocal type to bring the fat knight to life. Sopranos Barbara Frittoli and Judith Schmid acquit themselves capably as the merry wives of Windsor, while mezzo Yvonne Naef is an understated but effective Dame Quickly. Falstaff’s henchman, Bardolph (tenor Martin Zysset) and Pistol (baritone Davide Fersini) are accomplished scene stealers. The young lovers, Fenton (lyric tenor Javier Camarena) and Nannetta (light soprano Eva Liebau) are perfectly matched.

The Zurich Opera production is an extremely well videoed live performance with perfect color balance, timely camera work and a very good sense of the stage business that keeps this opera moving.

C Major BDs usually get good sound recording…The balance between pit and proscenium is superb, important here since Verdi’s score is as much a part of the action as are the sung words. Voice capture is superb, a plus for most of the good performances turned in by this cast.

The present BD has much to recommend it, including a generally good if not great cast, excellent music direction, and outstanding audio and video recording. You will get to see one of the best current interpreters of the title role, the reason why you go to see this opera. © 2012 Read complete review

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