Falstaff

NYC Opera


Thank goodness for operas like Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff.  No one dies;  no love goes unrequited.  Tubby Falstaff merely must suffer the humiliation he most richly deserves, but even so he recovers nicely.  The ingénue and her lover are married despite her father’s wishes that she marry someone else.  In most operas these things would become tragedy.  Not so with Falstaff.  Falstaff is proud of his big belly and refers to it lovingly and often.  He even claims it saved his life when he was thrown into the river with the dirty laundry by helping him to float.  We are all fools, the singers say as they point to us, the audience, at the end.


The singers are adequate, the sets are simple, the music is fine.  The story behind the opera is more interesting.  Verdi was rich, old and retired.  But at 75 he still had one more opus in him.  After reflecting upon whether he had the time to write another opera before he died, he found the project that would float his boat:  an opera based on Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV and V.  He and his librettist kept mum about this one last opera for almost two years, but finally announced it publicly, no doubt to the delight of opera lovers of the time.  He was over 75 years of age when the opera was finished.


Verdi used his wealth philanthropically and endowed a home for destitute musicians in Milan, which still operates today, 115 years later!  Another of his several projects was a hospital for the poor in his home village.


NYC Opera does much with their resources.  The house is great, the seats roomy and comfortable.  Nothing outstanding about this production, but a nice night out.