"Everything in this world is a joke”, says Falstaff, and these words of wisdom are truly given their due weight by one of the world’s most acclaimed Falstaff performers of his time, Ambrogio Maestri. The Italian baritone not only brings a powerful, versatile voice to his role, but also graces his character with a hilariously buffo yet endearing quality. His acting skills, his stage presence, his fleet-footed lightness all blend together to form an incomparable theatrical figure.
At the head of the Zurich Opera Orchestra is its principal conductor Daniele Gatti, who is at home at all major concert and operatic venues such as La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, the Bayreuth Festival... Under his baton, Verdi’s “commedia lirica” – based on Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” – is a fireworks of high spirits. Adding to the merriment is a cast of outstanding singers including Barbara Frittoli and Yvonne Naef, as well as tenor Javier Camarena and soprano Eva Liebau as the young lovers Fenton and Nannetta. The orchestra and soloists diffuse joyfulness and grace while projecting warm, mellow Italianità.
Tempo and timing are of the essence in Sven-Eric Bechtolf’s boisterous production, which cleverly creates intimate oasesof lyricism by freezing the bustle on the stage and focusing on one or two singers. With the aid of Marianne Glittenberg’s erahopping costumes, Gatti’s musical concept and his protagonists’ superior acting qualities, Bechtolf turns Verdi’s last opera “musically and dramaturgically into a feast of life and of love of life” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung).