Verdi’s last opera is a comedic and life-enhancing celebration of love, laughter and joie-de-vivre. The portly old lecher tries to win the affections of three buxom ladies who all triumphantly outwit him and have lot of fun in the process.
Verdi always had a copy of Shakespeare in Italian next to his bed. He wrote this infectious quicksilver score, setting text from The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 in a remarkable late-flowering Indian summer comedy. He was 79 when it premiered.
The Grange Festival is proud to announce with this new production the arrival to opera of Royal Shakespeare Company and West End director Christopher Luscombe and the welcome return of conductor Francesco Cilluffo whose Verdi Requiem on the Grange stage in 2017 still remains powerfully in our memories.
With many well-known names as well as brilliant young artists in the cast, this modern opera brings an exciting combination of Verdi and Shakespeare to The Grange.
- Composer — Giuseppe Verdi
- Librettist — Arrigo Boito
- Orchestra — The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
- Language — Sung in Italian
- Previous Slide
- Next Slide
- Act I
- Act II
- Act III
~ Act I ~
In Windsor, Sir John Falstaff, a fat elderly knight, is having his customary drinking session at the Garter Inn with his buddies Pistol and Bardolph. Being penniless, he is always dreaming up get-rich-quick schemes. His latest wheeze is to profess love to two rich married women, Alice Ford and Meg Page, hoping really to get access to their money, and sends them both identical letters. Alice and Meg compare notes, are furious and, with their friend Mistress Quickly, and Alice’s daughter Nannetta, resolve to punish Falstaff once and for all. Alice’s husband Ford, Falstaff’s creditor Dr Caius and young blade Fenton, in love with Nannetta, are also keen for revenge on Falstaff and similarly plan his come-uppance.
~ Act II ~
Alice invites Falstaff to her home, while her husband Ford is away. The plan is for Meg suddenly to surprise him. But Meg tells Alice that Ford is about to return.
Alice tells the discombobulated Falstaff to hide in the large laundry basket. This done, Alice orders her servants to throw the laundry basket out of the window into the river Thames. The sight of the soaking-wet Falstaff delights his tormentors.
~ Act III ~
Ford wants his daughter, Nannetta, to marry the elderly Dr Caius, but she has other ideas with Fenton.
Mistress Quickly invites Falstaff for a midnight tryst with Alice in Windsor Great Park, under Herne’s Oak. Feeling glum, he is initially reluctant, but he dresses up as Herne the Hunter and sets off. Ford, realising his error in ever suspecting his wife, plans with his friends to dress as creatures of the night and ambush Falstaff. He also plots separately with Dr Caius to deceive his daughter into marriage with him.
Fenton and Nannetta serenade each other under the oak tree. The women arrive early, disguise Fenton, and thwart Ford’s marriage plan for his daughter. The fairies-in-disguise set upon and thrash Falstaff. He accepts the joke, acknowledges his due and takes comfort in realising he is not the only one to be duped.
The whole company sings a glorious fugue, “Tutto nel mondo è burla …tutti gabbati”, delighting in the folly and fun of life.