World premiere: 9th of February 1893, Teatro alla Scala in Milan
Date of premiere in the 2014-2015 season at the Bucharest National Opera House: 19th of February 2015
Performances in the 2015-2016 season
November 18, 2015
April 20 and 21, 2016
Conductor: Guillermo Garcia Calvo
Directed by Graham Vick
Choirmaster: Stelian Olariu
Assistant Choirmaster: Daniel Jinga
Cast of the 2015-2016 season:
“Falstaff”, the last opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi, will be revived at the Bucharest National Opera House after many years of absence from the repertoire, in the new approach of British director Graham Vick, known for his original and experimental stage productions that he has created so far. One can easily imagine what the production of “Falstaff” at the Bucharest Opera House looks like only by recalling the version he created for the Royal Opera House "Covent Garden", in 1999, when he found his source of inspiration in the paintings of Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel.
Sir John Falstaff feeds his enormous belly thanks to thievery and his title. Dr Cajus is convinced that Falstaff and his two sidekicks Bardolph and Pistol, robbed him last night. Unfortunately he was so drunk that he could not prove his case.
In order to pay the large bill he owes, Falstaff writes love letters to the wives of two wealthy men. When Bardolph and Pistol refuse to deliver the letters, Falstaff ridicules their newly discovered sense of honour and throws them out.
Alice Ford and Meg Page discover they’ve received identical love letters. Together with Alice’s daughter Nannetta and Mrs Quickly they decide to take revenge on Sir John Falstaff.
Bardolph and Pistol need a new patron. They inform Ford of Falstaff’s plan to seduce his wife. Urged on by Dr Cajus, who is in love with Nannetta, Ford decides to pay Falstaff a visit – incognito. As the plot is hatched Ford’s daughter steals a few precious moments with her lover Fenton.
Feigning repentance Bardolph and Pistol return to Falstaff, Mrs Quickly brings Falstaff Alice’s message: she has received his letter and will be available to Sir John between 2 and 3 o’clock. Falstaff takes the bait.
Bardolph announces a “Mr Brook”. Ford enters with a strange request: he is madly in love with a married woman - Alice Ford - but she will not even look at him. He will pay Sir John a small fortune to seduce her: once her virtue is lost, Alice will be more likely to sin again. Falstaff takes the money guaranteeing his new friend success as he already has a rendez-vous with Alice that very afternoon. Ford left alone is horrified at this confirmation of his wife’s infidelity, but thanks his jealousy for giving him back his manhood.
The women are planning to wait until Falstaff will be alone with Alice, then pretend her jealous husband is coming home, in order to bind him to hide in a laundry basket and then empty it while throwing Falstaff out off the window, straight into the river.
They have to improvise when Ford really does come home, determined to shame his wife and her aristocratic lover. The sound of a kiss from behind a screen gives the lovers away – he has caught them red-handed. Ford summons his friends to witness his wife’s shame - only to expose not Falstaff and Alice but Nannetta and Fenton. Ford swears Fenton will never marry his daughter.
Alice makes her husband watch as Falstaff is dumped publicly and unceremoniously in the water. Not only Falstaff is humiliated.
As Sir John dries off in the sun, he reflects on what has become of the world, but his depression is soon chased away helped by a glass of mulled wine.
Another visit from Mrs. Quickly rouses him to anger until she produces a letter from Alice - he cannot resist. It is an invitation to a midnight assignation in the park; he is to wear the horns of the legendary Black Huntsman.
Meanwhile Alice organises the parts everyone else is to play in the night’s prank. Nannetta is to be Queen of the Fairies, veiled in white. Ford secretly promises Cajus that he will marry the veiled Nannetta that very night – but Mrs. Quickly has been listening.
Alice has her own plan to get Nannetta married to Fenton. As midnight tolls, Falstaff enters the park with the lust of a pagan god, Alice creeps out of the bushes and offers herself to him. When he learns Meg is to join them Sir John howls with joy. There is a scream and Alice runs away;. Falstaff is left alone and petrified as the park comes to life, surrounds, haunts, and terrifies him. The spirits are terrorising the fat lecher into promising to give up his dissolute ways when Falstaff smells Bardolph and realises that it’s all a trick. When the women reveal themselves and Mr. Brook turns out to be Mr Ford, Sir John needs to sit down.
Ford announces one last surprise: the wedding of the Fairy Queen. Veiled in white she is about to be married to a mysterious figure when another couple asks to join the blessing. Encouraged by Alice, Ford agrees to a double wedding. Ford asks the couples to unmask: with laughter ringing in his ears he sees that the Fairy Queen whom he has married to Cajus is none other than Bardolph; Alice has tricked him into blessing his daughter’s union with Fenton. Hoist with his own petard, Ford forgives the young lovers and blesses their marriage. As he calls on Sir John to pay for dinner, everyone agrees that though the whole world may be nothing but a joke filled with jokers, he who laughs last laughs best.