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Come to the unstable

“How, then, to explain the perplexing performance last Friday night of Falstaff, Mr. Levine’s first new production since his return? Nothing went wrong exactly, but nothing went quite right either. Conducting this final masterpiece of Verdi—a Levine specialty at the Met since 1972, his second season with the company—the maestro was off his game.” [New York Observer] (Photo: Ken Howard)

85 comments

  • casualoperafan says:

    Her little “arietta” Gaie comare di Windsor also touches C. Don’t recall the rest in specificity but the role definitely does not top out at B.

  • turings says:

    Is there a sparklingly funny Falstaff production out there? I saw the new Christof Loy one for the Deutsche Oper in Berlin a couple of weeks ago with a young energetic cast, and it was fun but not funny. It was set in the Casa di Riposa, and there was a lot of play about age/youth, in that the singers kept taking off and putting on fat suits and bald wigs – presumably to signify ‘inner youth’ and the enlivening effects of the various plots (a bit ageist, but there you go). The overall effect was more hectic than anything though.

    Porgi, I was thinking after about Furlanetto and baritone roles, and one of the ones he says he wanted to do but couldn’t was Falstaff – which would have been fun. Apparently San Diego were going to put it on for him. It’s in the Jampol book, Living Opera, where he also talks about Escamillo and Iago being too high for him.

    • Buster says:

      Thanks Turings, I was curious about these performances. How did Barbara Haveman do?

      • turings says:

        Well, I thought – and she had noticeably more authority and experience on stage than most of her colleagues.

        It was an oddly balanced cast, in that they asked a young artist in residence, Noel Bouley, to take the title role when Markus Brück had to withdraw. He was as good as you could reasonably hope in the circumstances, but his voice was not big, and he didn’t manage to do anything to dispel the idea that Falstaff is really a virtuoso part for an older man.

        I really liked Elena Tsallagova as Nanetta, who I’d never heard before – something very pretty about her singing.

        • oedipe says:

          I like Tsallagova too. Very pretty voice.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Here’s Tsallagova in an aria I last heard sung (precariously, but she got through it) by Popsy. This is my first encounter with her -- she reminds me more than a little of La Battaglia!
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMG7VNZFXno

            • semira mide says:

              I was sitting literally right below the box when she sang that in the Teatro Rossini in 2011! Exquisite. She was a graduate that summer of the Accademia Rossiniana.
              The following summer she sang Amenaide the Rossini Opera Festival’s Tancredi, and last summer she triumphed in L’occasone fa il Ladro where her comic talents were evident. It is gratifying to see a young singer blossom like she has.

        • Buster says:

          Thanks again! Unbelievable Amsterdam hired Fiorenza Cedolins to sing Alice, instead of Haveman. If I want to hear her this year, I have to go to Cologne (Tove), or to Liege (Tosca). Idiotic.

          • Regina delle fate says:

            Cedolins sounded miscast and heavyweight in Salzburg Buster, but is Haveman really such a star. I heard her Eva in a concert Meistersinger which was pretty good, but the DNO surely miscast her as Hélène in Vêpres, no? THose are the only two times I have seen her, so maybe they weren’t her best showing.

            • Buster says:

              Haveman did DNO a huge favor stepping in as Helene at the very last moment, Regina. They were desperate to find someone who could sing the role. It just seems odd to me she has not been invited back since.

    • Regina delle fate says:

      That’s two Falstaffs set in the Casa di Riposo in the same year. Michielletti’s Salzburg production was the opposite of fun. Glyndebourne’s Richard Jones staging had a vintage revival this year with a better cast, including the adorable Ailyn Perez as a very youthful and beautiful Alice, and better conductors than on the DVD of the production when it was new (I think in 2009). Laurent Naouri -- whom I always think of a Golaud type temperamentally, was a surprisingly funny Falstaff. Best thing at Glynditz this summer, though I didn’t see the revival of Parterre Favourite Michael Grandage’s Billy Budd. That is coming to BAM in January, I read somewhere.

      • turings says:

        The setting didn’t really matter that much to the Loy production in any case – it began entertainingly with a ‘silent movie’ projection which told us this was the Casa di Riposa, we heard Bouley sing, the screen went up, and there they all were, just as in the film. But if we hadn’t been told (in writing) at the beginning, there wouldn’t have been much clue where we were from the rest of the piece. The characters weren’t drawn as musicians, for instance, and it didn’t really play out as anything other than a vaguely institutional space with older (and then younger and then older) occupants, unless I was missing something.

        I must check out the DVD of the Jones production – I’ve only seen clips.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        I would not cross the street to see Naouri in a major role.

  • stehparterre says:

    Well, let me (and I am not alone in my opinion) tell the truth; the problem was Mr. Levine. We love him for all that he gave to the Met, but we see now: it’s over, it’s time to retire Mr. Levine. This Falstaff was not the level we should have at the Met.
    They have some great conductors to take over: YNZ, Luisi, Jurowsky…. For Falstaff Luisi would have been the best choice probably (I saw his Falstaf in Vienna and Barcelona -- amazing!). But we need a new Music Director at the Met.
    Please Mr. Levine, retire with dignity. You have been a great man, we want to remember you as such.

    • Camille says:

      What do we do? Hold up banners saying “Jimmy, we love you, but PLEASE retire?”

      I am guessing that since Falstaff itself is supposed to be the miraculous ref lowering of genius in an old man (Verdi), we are supposed to believe that is what, similarly, is happening in casus Levine…..?

      Not even sure now I’ll go to see the repetition in the theaters…sooner or later it will be playing on a television in my house.

    • Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati says:

      There will be no Levine retirement from the Met unless he has a serious medical relapse, or voluntarily vacates (doubtful). We must wait until master behind-the-scenes puppeteer Ronald Wilford expires or steps down to possibly see any significant changes, erosion of Levine’s power base and consequent cutting of strings.