Thursday, 29 December 2016

Giuseppe Verdi, Falstaff - Landestheater Linz, Musiktheater

Performance 26th December

Part two of this year's christmas marathon also took place in Linz with Verdi's last opera and only successful comedy. In constrast to most other people I am not really a fan of the lade Verdi and definitely prefer his early works. I never understood the fuss about Falstaff which has some really lovely scenes, but does not really capture me like Nabucco or other early works.
The new production by Guy Montavon featured some nice ideas and definitely succeded to convey the comic parts of the plot. I would not call his direction exceptional but it definitely shows some solid work. The beautiful stage and costumes by Hank Irwin Kittel feature lovely costumes from the late 19th / early 20th century and the stage was full of things which indicated the time of the industrialisation. Great machines and a big factory created a unique atmosphere. Especially the staging of the second act (inside the factory) and the finale in the woods (in this case a funfair) looked simply marvelous.
Dennis Russell Davies conducted the performance with skilful routine and showed some of the smart details of Verdi's score. He was able to point out the colourful instrumentation and the intensive counterpoints. The Brucknerorchester Linz followed his lead and gave a very elegant and light performance. Especially during the final fuga in the end the orchestra actually seemed to have fun playing the entangled lines. The Chor des Landestheater Linz convinced during their short appearance in the final act with joyful passion and playfullness.
In the smaller roles we heard Pedro Velázquez-Díaz (Dr. Cajus), Sven Hjörleifsson (Bardolfo) and Dominik Nekel (Pistola). All three of them gave solid performances and convinced both vocally and acting-wise.
A real highlight was the young couple of lovers. Fenja Lukas and Iurie Ciobanu sang Nannetta and Fenton with beautiful fresh youthful voices. Lukas' beautiful soprano did not fail to bewitch me once again and Ciobanu's clear and powerful tenor was a perfect match for her.
Christa Ratzenböck gave a solid performance as Mrs. Quickly with her slender mezzo voice. Personally I would like a fuller voice for this role, but Ratzenböck did not fail to convince, especially with her humorous acting.
After her Hänsel the day before Martha Hirschmann sang the role of Meg Page. She gave a very refined elegant performance with her beautiful soft mezzo voice and fitted into the ensemble very well.
In the role of Ford we heard Seho Chang who filled the role perfectly with his striking and intimidating baritone voice. The power and the warm timbre of his voice are marvelous. His performance was a real pleasure and showed great musicality.
Alice Ford was sung by Myung Joo Lee whose lovely lyric soprano voice combines a beautiful bright top and a soft warm lower register. She sang the role with ease and gave a cheeky ludic performance with her flexible agile instrument.
The title role of Falstaff was performed by Federico Longhi who did a wonderful job. His powerful flexible baritone has the right timbre for this role and he filled his performance with comedic talent. His voice seems to be perfect to such a Verdi baritone role and his singing came together with a refinded understanding of the role.
Finally I have to say that the performance did not change my opinion on this opera, even though the performance was on a very high level and is definitely recommendable. I would give 8 stars to the Falstaff of Linz.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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