I did enjoy the productions with Bryn Terfel, Renato Bruson and Willard White. But I found this Falstaff the most pleasurable, the most evocative in regards in visuals and staging and the most fun. Falstaff is Verdi's last opera and while not among his best it is an interesting work with a good story and well-crafted music.
The costumes and sets look beautiful and suitably Italianate, and the videography, picture quality and sound are clear and serve the performers and music very well. The orchestra are also excellent, playing with a vibrant sound, and the conducting has authority. Musically, I agree wholeheartedly that the ensembles are the most impressive, especially the fugue between all the principles at the end which on a musical and performing front is wow personified.
When it comes to the performances, this Falstaff is brilliant. Ambrosio Maestri's Falstaff is superbly characterised, the acting is hearty, the voice is sonorous and of the Falstaffs I've seen Maestri meets the physical demands of Falstaff better than Terfel, Bruson and White put together. Roberto Frontali is perfect as Ford, he is quite malevolent but not too blustery.
Juan Diego Florez may have gone on to do better performances in more prominent roles, but Fenton is an interesting role for him and he performs it very nicely with effortless top notes, superb agility and style and a dashing presence on stage. Of the ladies, Anna Caterina Antonacci's sly Meg fares best, though Barbara Fritoli also sparkles as Alice and Bernadette Manca Di Nissa a well sung and acted Mistress Quickly.
Overall, an excellent Falstaff and to me to the one to look out for. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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