Argentina Verdi, Falstaff: Soloists, Chorus of Teatro Colón, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Conductor: Roberto Paternostro, Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 16.9.2014. (JSJ)
Falstaff: Ambrogio Maestri
Ford: Fabián Veloz
Alice Ford: Barbara Frittoli
Nannetta: Paula Almerares
Mistress Quickly: Elisabetta Fiorillo
Fenton: Emanuele D’Aguanno
Meg Page: Guadalupe Barrientos
Dr. Caius: Sergio Spina
Bardolfo: Juan Borja
Pistola: Gustavo Gibert
Director: Arturo Gama
Sets/lighting: Juan Carlos Greco
Costumes: Aníbal Lápiz
Chorus: Miguel Martínez
However one wants to translate the final ‘Tutto nel mondo é burla’ from Falstaff – ‘Everything in the world is a joke’ or Chandos’ Life is a burst of laughter’, the point was well made in this new Colón production, as it was sung the cast and the rest of those on stage stripped down to their normal dress.
Joke, hoax, deception – regardless of one’s choice it was one not be missed, although more from the vocal point of view than the visual, with a modernish wood background somewhat at odds with the more traditional dress, not to mention the character of this remarkable work which Verdi completed in his 80th year. One wouldn’t have imagined Falstaff choosing to hang out in that particular Garter Inn at least.
That said Falstaff in the person of Ambrogio Maestri did and made the most of it. Maestri is a big man with a big presence – and a big voice, but used expressively to bring out the many nuances of the role. Alongside him Fabián Veloz (replacing the originally programmed Simone Piazzola) as Ford once again showed off his Verdian excellence and Emanuele D’Aguanno was a lyrical Fenton. However, Sergio Spina’s Dr. Caius was marred by a tendency to bellow.
Barbara Frittoli making her Colón debut as Alice Ford was pleasing but lacked volume whereas Elisabetta Fiorillo was overloud, and it was Guadalupe Barrientos as Meg and especially Paula Almerares (also a replacement for the programmed Aída Garifullina) as a radiant Nannetta who stood out most.
Roberto Paternostro elicited good playing with appropriate tempi although at times overshadowing some of the singers, and the chorus trained by Miguel Martínez was spot on.
This time Falstaff made it – and it has been a long wait after the 2010 debacle when the production was cancelled over labour issues at the start of what should have been the second performance, but one clearly worth it.
Jonathan Spencer Jones