Giuseppe Verdi

Falstaff

Janáček Theatre / Opera 08/05/2024 18:00 - 20:20

You can’t go wrong with a comedy staged by the director Ondřej Havelka, especially when it’s a comedy by Giuseppe Verdi. Perhaps you wouldn´t expect this genre from a composer of famous tragic operas, but there you would be wrong, as in actual fact Verdi wanted to write a comedy all his life, but only got round to it with his last opera. And so a masterpiece inspired by the famous Shakespearean figure, Sir John Falstaff, was created.

Falstaff, a resident of the Garter Inn, enjoys partaking of good food and drink, but is particularly interested in the local Windsor ladies Alice Ford and Meg Page. The fact that they are both married doesn´t bother him at all; on the contrary, it only adds spice to his desires. Meg and Alice don´t care for his affections, and, with the help of Mistress Quicky, entangle him in their webs and teach him a proper lesson. However, Falstaff concludes this bittersweet comedy with the wise words: “The whole world is a farce.” Verdi, who had experienced a lot himself and knew how to enjoy life, left the world a comic opera that is hard to match. Smart and witty, with occasional subtle parodies of Verdi´s typical heroic performances, full of ensemble numbers which are clearly inspired by Rossini, and with humour overflowing with understanding for all that is human, such is his Falstaff that is returning to the Brno stage after fifty years away.

Staged in the Italian original with Czech, English and German subtitles

Premiere:  5th April 2023 at the Janáček Theatre

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Staged in Italian original with Czech, English and German subtitles.

Act 1

At the Garter Inn, Falstaff is preparing for yet another amorous adventure, which he hopes will bring him the lady’s favour and her husband’s money. And why seduce just one when you can seduce two

– Alice Ford and Meg Page. Falstaff’s preparations are interrupted by Dr Caius who accuses him of having ransacked his house and his servants robbing him. Falstaff laughs at him, but his mood is spoiled by the innkeeper’s bill. The money is running out and so letters to the ladies need to be sent quickly. He commands the servants Bardolfo and Pistola to deliver the letters, and when Pistola defends himself that it is not honourable, Falstaff lectures them that honour is just a word and it buys nothing. He finally kicks both the servants out.

Alice and Meg have received Falstaff’s letters. They quickly discover that they are exactly the same, and together with Quickly and Alice’s daughter Nannette, they decide to punish Falstaff. Young Fenton is in love with Nannette, but Ford wants her to marry Dr Caius, who is rich. Bardolfo and Pistola want revenge and warn Ford about Falstaff’s plan. Ford decides to visit Falstaff in disguise under an assumed name and sets a trap for him.

 

Act 2

Bardolfo and Pistola pretend to beg Falstaff to take them back into his service. Quickly arrives and invites him on behalf of Alice to a rendezvous at two in the afternoon at Ford’s house. Ford appears disguised

as the wealthy Fontana. He says he is in love with Alice, who rejects him. If Falstaff seduced her, she might be more open to another suitor. Falstaff agrees and reveals that he has a rendezvous with her at two. Ford struggles to hide his jealousy.

Alice, Meg and Quickly are planning their revenge. Alice notices that Nannette is unhappy and she confides that her father wants to marry her off to Dr Caius. Alice promises her it won’t happen.

Falstaff comes and tries to seduce Alice. Quickly bursts in, shouting that Ford has unexpectedly returned, looking for his wife’s lover. In the ensuing confusion, the women hide Falstaff in a prepared laundry

basket and Alice has him dumped in the river.

 

Act 3

Falstaff, drenched, curses the evil world, but a glass of wine quickly mends his mood. Here comes Quickly, bringing another invitation to meet Alice. Falstaff is at first reluctant, but Quickly convinces him

that Alice was not to blame for the previous fiasco. The new date is scheduled to take place at midnight at Herne’s Oak in Windsor Park. Falstaff is supposed to come disguised as the ghost of the hunter

Herne, who, according to local superstition, haunts the area around the tree and appears there at midnight with a group of fairies and ghosts. The plan is for Alice, Nannette, Ford and the others to come

dressed as supernatural beings and give Falstaff a hard time. Ford arranges with Caius to use the masks and he and Nannette, disguised as the queen of the fairies, join him in a wedding blessing. However,

Quickly overhears their plan.

Fenton comes to the oak tree and is joined by the women who dress him in the same costume as Dr Caius. Falstaff is seducing Alice, but their date is interrupted by Nannette, queen of the fairies,

summoning her ghostly helpers. They all give Falstaff a hard time and the men in elf masks start beating him. But Falstaff recognizes the disguised Bardolfo. The prank is over and Alice reveals Fontana as her husband Ford. Falstaff admits defeat, but says that without his wit, others wouldn’t have any either. The wedding procession is coming. Caius and the queen of the fairies are approaching. A second couple appears and asks Ford to give them his blessing as well. When Ford blesses the couples, it turns out that he actually blessed Nannette and Fenton’s wedding. The bride of Caius was Bardolfo in disguise. Ford admits his defeat and Falstaff, pleased that he is not the only one fooled, declares that the whole world is a farce.

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Production team

Ondrej Olos Musical arrangement and conductor
Pavel Šnajdr Conductor
Ondřej Havelka Directed by
Jana Zbořilová Costumes
Přemysl Janda Lighting design
Jana Hanušová Movement cooperation

Cast

When do we play?

Falstaff Janáček Theatre / Opera

Falstaff

  • 08/05/2024
  • 18:00 - 20:20

Photogallery