|Falstaff goes courting the ladies of Windsor.|
The great French baritone Victor Maurel
who created Verdi's Iago and Falstaff.
Now to be fair two things - well okay three if you consider my youthful ignorance - should be taken in to consideration. First: Falstaff was a work that went largely unperformed in the venue I had access to at the time - the Met broadcasts and tours, and the Canadian Opera Company. Second: The only recording I had at hand was the famous and much lauded Toscanini version. To many this may sound like apostasy but I have grown to dislike Toscanini's Falstaff. Yes I know he has a direct link with the work but I find his performance driven, brittle and utterly lacking in humour - much like the man himself. I was to discover that there was more joy, wit and humanity in the piece than in almost any other opera I had ever heard.
|Falstaff was a signature role for Geraint Evans - seen here in|
1964 at the Met. Falstaff bemoans the unfairness of life after
his dunking in the Thames.
Performances became more frequent - even the COC did it for the first time back in 1982 with Louis Quilico; more recordings appeared led by many of the great conductors: Von Karajan, Solti, Bernstein, Guilini, Davis, Abbado and Muti. Though none were perfect - if such a thing could exist - all were to reveal - to my ears - the autumnal as well as comedic subtleties and colour of the miraculous collaboration between Shakespeare, Boito and Verdi.
|Louis Quilico as Falstaff with the COC in 1982.|
After attending the COC's most recent production last Friday night I came out of the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto feeling much the same way. What I had seen was in no way perfect but it left me feeling that despite all the troubles in the world, despite what the media was reporting, despite any personal peeves I might have at the moment, there was still much that was right with the world.
|Gerald Finley made his first appearance as Verdi's Fat Knight last Friday |
evening at the opening of the COC season. It was a more than auspicious
role debut and it is a performance that will only grow richer as time goes by.
October 7 - 1919: KLM, the flag carrier of the Netherlands, is founded. It is the oldest airline still operating under its original name.