MTL Opera - Falstaff

The Montreal opera’s second installment of the season found a lighter tone with Verdi ’s last work, Falstaff , based on the Shakespea...

The Montreal opera’s second installment of the season found a lighter tone with Verdi’s last work, Falstaff, based on the Shakespeare comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor, as well as some parts of Henry IV. As it turns out, it's also the bi-centennial of the great composer's birth, and so to mark the occasion, the ODM set up a grand display of prints relating to his works; these which provided a fantastic point of interest during intermission.

Now, true to one of Shakespeare's penchants for having female characters outsmart the men, Verdi also takes us through a coup whereby aging John Falstaff writes identical love letters to two friends who quickly realize what he’s done. Revenge plotting ensues and leads to an invitation for some daytime dallying, assumptions of infidelity, and some quick thinking involving a clothes hamper.

The plot pacing was sharp and swift throughout six scenes, with comedic moments made up of both situation and sung humor that never failed to get a reaction from the audience. The sets were stylish and minimal by opera standards we’ve seen in the past, and expertly conveyed both time and place.

Of the players from the mostly-Canadian cast, Oleg Bryjak was solid in the title role, if not somewhat clichéd with clown-like curly grey hair, although some exaggeration is to be expected in humor.   Among other notable guys was Antonio Figueroa, as Fenton, James McLennan as Dr. Cajus, and a handsome newcomer (and Montrealer), Jean-Michel Richer, as Bardolfo.

On the ladies side, our two show-stealers were Aline Kutan as Nanetta, and Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Mrs. Quickly, both of whose acting and voices possessed the greatest range.

On the whole, it’s a great piece, not to mention highly accessible to those getting introduced to the genre for the first time. Meaning, pick up some tickets and discuss over dinner in the Quartier des spectacles afterwards.



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