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The Sunday Opera: Giuseppe Verdi's "Falstaff" from the National Center for the Performing Arts

Someone who follows Sir John Falstaff is said to be a Falstaffian, but what would a grouping of Fallstaffs be called? …Perhaps a disturbance of Falstaffs?

In any event, regardless of what they’re called, we’ll have an afternoon of Falstaffs on this week’s Sunday Opera (12/11 3:00 p.m.).

We’ll begin with a perennial favorite from the pen of Giuseppe Verdi: his last opera based on the exploits of Sir John and his infamous run-in with Alice Ford and Meg Page. This production continues with our season of operas that have come from the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing and stars Roberto de Candia as Falstaff.

The ladies on whom Sir John sets his sights are Rachele Stanisci as Alice and Lilly Jorstad as Meg. Their accomplice and go between, Mistress Quickly, is performed by Anna Maria Chiuri.

Our young lovers here, Nanetta and Fenton, are sung by Giulia Semenzato and Shi Yijie.

Of course, there needs to be some over officious and pompous men to be ridiculed, and they come in the form of the overly sure husband to Alice simply known as Ford sung by Filippo Polinelli and the clueless Dr. Caius performed by Liang Yufeng.

And, finally, we have the Falstaffians, Pistol and Bardolph, who have long been by Falstaff’s side, making sure to get their share of all takings. They’re sung by Huang Yisheng and Kou Jing in this production.

Renato Palumbo conducts the NCPA Orchestra and Chorus.

After “Falstaff,” we’ll turn to another aspect of Sir John in Gordon Getty’s opera, “Plump Jack” whose libretto was culled from other Shakespearean works, “Henry IV Parts 1 & 2” and “Henry V.” In this work, we have an older yet no wiser Falstaff whose life is coming to an end as is his connection to Prince Hal as Hal becomes the new King, Henry V.

This recording of the concert version of the opera features Lester Lynch as Falstaff, Nikolai Shukoff as Prince Hal, and Susanne Mentzer as Nell Quickly.

Just to add two more “Johns” to the afternoon, we’ll include the orchestral introduction to Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Sir John in Love” and the overture to Otto Nicolai’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” for good measure.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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