Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
An excellent Falstaff performance
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a live 1982 production of Verdi's last opera, at the Salzburg festival with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker. The singers are Giuseppe Tadei (Sir John Falstaff), Raina Kabaivanska (Alice Ford), Rolando Panerai (Ford), Francisco Araiza (Fenton) and Christa Ludwig (Quickly).
Musically, the performance is excellent and the stage is finely designed, specially the forest in the third act. Video quality is high and sound quality is good. I highly recommend this recording of Verdi's probably best opera."
Greeta K. Brown | Anchorage, AK USA | 12/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a delightful experience, this video or DVD! The cast is A-One! The names GiuseppeTaddei and Raina Kabaivanska conjure up dramatic roles such as Scarpia and Tosca along with Christa Ludwig, ever dramatic as well. Yet, here they all are showing fantastic abilities with grand comedy! A highlight for this listener is the patter-type quartet of Alice Ford, Meg, Quickly, and the lovely Nanetta, daughter of the Fords. Taddei is beyond superb! The flirtatious scene between Mistress Alice and Sir John Falstaff is so cleverly done, it is almost "naughty ". Kataivanska and Taddei are marvelous together. The scene of the cloying Dame Quickly (Christa Ludwig), as she lures Falstaff to his "tryst" with Alice and/or Meg, is one of the most hilarious scenes in all comic opera! Rolando Panero, is wonderful, in frustrated anguish imagining his lovely wife planning a tryst with this buffoon, Falstaff! As for the buffoon, few, if any basso, struts and minces quite like Taddei! Shakespeare would have thoroughly appreciated the masterful music setting Verdi made of his "Merry Wives of Windsor," and parts of "Henry IV." Verdi, in turn, would have fallen in love with Maestro von Karagan and this brilliant cast of super artists! Surely there has been no more SENSATIONAL performance than this one! Opera devotee or not, if you like Shakespeare, surely you will enjoy this!"
An excellent DVD at a bargain price
A. BOSS | Mountainside, NJ United States | 06/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the best performances of Falstaff that I have seen. The singing, acting, and conducting are all first rate, and the the convential staging is very effective. And all that comes at a price much lower than other DVDs."
Dull overall but surprising third act
Albert Innaurato | Philadelphia Pa | 01/17/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There is a lot wrong here. Old Karajan takes slow tempos and lazily plays with rhythms so the music has no spine or lift and many of these largely veteran singers have to struggle with breath so as to sustain his tempos. He is also given credit as 'director', which means despite handsome looking period sets, that this is a static, uninventive presentation, oddly photographed. The singers usually stare straight out and wait for their cues, though this is an opera full of give and take. Too often a bad camera angle is used for a soloist so the full face is only partially caught (it might have been that camera placement in the space was a problem) but sometimes the wrong person is the one getting the close up. Even in the two person scenes (Falstaff/Ford in scene l act 2) the camera doesn't catch the crucial interaction between the two men but lingers on one then clumsily cuts to somewhere unimportant then clumsily cuts to the other (usually at the wrong time) then clumsily cuts back.
In the first two acts, the singers, despite the long experience of most, are bland and remote, as though uncertain of the conductor and uncomfortable on the sets. People like Kabaivanska, Panerai, de Palma, Taddei know their way around this opera cold one would think but seem inhibited and none sings well (though of them all Panerai has the most tone left). The great Taddei as fat Falstaff -- the character's size is constantly referred to in the opera -- doesn't really look obese here (though he usually did because he really was -- it looks like he's either been on a serious diet or has been ill) has trouble moving, and is seriously short of breath. Ludwig is too sunny, without the more sarcastic quality written into Dame Quickly, also without the booming low notes. Janet Perry and Araiza as the young lovers look like the grandchildren (or great grandchildren) of these people, not their children, and they are dull too, without any tonal glamor.
But much changes in act three. Karajan comes alive (relatively). Though the camera work remains clusmy, and the fancy filming of what occurs in Windsor Forrest is silly and doesn't work, the singers look for all the world like they've said 'to hell with it' and all give the performances one would have expected from them all along (or it may simply have been taken largely from a different performance than the first two acts).
Taddei in particular is suddenly verbally acute, witty, bitter, touching and funny. His voice sounds rounder and is under better control and he seems more comfortable moving (and he is very game in allowing himself to be carried around). There is a second in scene ll where he catches Panerai's eye during the finale and the twinkle and smile between them is magic. The others are all better except for the two youngsters. Perry lacks the vocal magic Nannetta's great solo requires, and Araiza likewise is ordinary in his short but lovely aria (to be fair, the pretty Perry is gotten up in a mightily unflattering costume).
Those who saw Taddei make his Met debut in this opera some years later (with De Palma) saw a much better performance; both were wonderful, but Taddei was magical. Only in act three and really only to a lesser degree is that true here. (those up on the opera underground will know there is a video of Taddei and other veterans in a semi-staged concert performance even later than the Met, where despite the absence of set, costumes and more than minimal staging he and colleagues are all hilarious and, where need be, touching). Karajan's earlier sound recording on EMI (with a virtually perfect cast including Gobbi and Moffo, all in excellent form) is a far better example of what he could do with this miraculous work."