VIDEO: Get A First Look at FALSTAFF at The Met

Baritone Ambrogio Maestri brings his larger-than-life portrayal of the title role back for the first time since his Met role debut in the 2013-14 season. Robert Carsen's insightful production-which moves the action to postwar England in the 1950s-features an exceptional cast that includes soprano Ailyn Pérez as Alice Ford and soprano Golda Schultz as Nannetta.

World Premiere: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 1893. A deeply human comedy full of humor and genuine emotion, Verdi's last opera is a splendid finale to an unparalleled career in the theater. The story is an amalgamation of scenes from Shakespeare, primarily drawn from the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. It centers on the remarkable personality of Sir John Falstaff, one of literature's most compelling characters. With a supremely well-crafted score, which has long commanded the respect even of Verdi's critics, it is an astounding work and among the greatest operatic comedies of all time.

In a remarkable career spanning six decades, Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) composed 28 operas, at least half of which are at the core of today's repertoire. Falstaff was his final work for the stage. The remarkable librettist Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) was also a composer (his opera Mefistofele, based on Goethe's Faust, premiered in 1868), as well as a journalist and critic.

The opera is set in and around the town of Windsor, west of London, in the first decades of the 15th century. The current Met production places the action in mid-20th century England, after the Second World War-an era when long-established social norms were rapidly changing and the aristocracy lost much of their wealth and influence.

Falstaff marks a stylistic departure for Verdi and occupies a category of its own, without parallels in the history of the genre. The musical ideas come fast and abundantly, moving from one to the next organically and without discernible breaks. The orchestra carries the story and occasionally makes literal comments on the action. At other times, it represents the overall spirit of the proceedings, such as in the remarkable prelude to Act III, which contains all the sweeping crescendo of a Rossini overture in less than a minute.


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