Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Giuseppe Verdi's final opera, Falstaff, composed when he was 80, has no great melodic lines, triumphal marches or consumptive heroines; at its center there is only a drunken old man who imagines himself a seducer. Falstaff's lack of self-awareness permeates the opera and gives it broad brushes of comedy. Handsome once, he has grown grotesque and fat, yet not without wit ("I am in the waist two yards about; but I am now about no waste; I am about thrift"--and "If Falstaff were thin, no one would love him"). He behaves like a boor; oblivious to his own hypocriscy, and lectures his servants about "honor."
It's Verdi's only comic opera, based on Shakespeare (mostly The Merry Wives of Windsor, with bits of Falstaff's character adapted from the Henry plays), and it uses sprightly.language and brilliant orchestration to tell the story or Falstaff's comeuppance