Taddei, Moffo, Alva, Barbieri and Serafin?- a recipe for operatic brilliance!
That is what the cast promise and that was exactly what was delivered with no reservations. The sets and costumes are highly traditional and look beautiful, while the camera techniques show some clever composition indeed especially the slowly encoiling mirror shot. The picture quality and sound are rather faded at times but than many other opera telecasts made during the 50s(and even they manage to be among some of the best performances of the respective operas). The direction plays out the comedic parts of the opera very well while also emphasising the darker aspects of the opera.
Musically, the production is even better. The orchestral playing is beautifully balanced and suitably lively, while Tulio Serafin gives one of his finest later readings, while relaxed at times other parts like Act 1 Scene 2 have the fierceness and urgency they should. Giuseppe Taddei is a superb Falstaff, he looks even more comfortable here than in the 1982 Salzburg performance, which both the performance and production were splendid, and sings with a fresher and more rounded tone here as well. His Falstaff is witty and vulnerable, and his singing shows how much at home he was in both buffo and dramatic roles. Scipione Colombo is a persuasive, intelligently-phrased and very attractively voiced Ford with the finest rendition of the Jealousy Monologue I've heard.
Anna Moffo sparkles and charms as Nannetta and her singing is as ever beautiful. Luigi Alva is one of the more convincing Fentons I've heard and seen too, strong voice and excellent technique, handsome and never too stolid in his presence. Together these two embody young love. Rosanna Carteri is very expressive as Alice, while Fedora Barbieri is an authoritative and broad-gestured Mistress Quickly and Anna Maria Canali makes the most out of Meg Page, a role that could be seen as thankless. In fact my only real problem was the highly variable lip-synching, especially with Carteri and Alva.
Overall though, it is really brilliant and one of the better Falstaffs around. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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