* Notes *
Lyric Opera of Chicago's current production of Falstaff (Act II, Scene 2 pictured left with Ainhoa Arteta as Alice Ford and Bryn Terfel as Sir John Falstaff, photograph by Cory Weaver) had an opening performance at San Francisco Opera yesterday. The set, from Frank Philipp Schlössmann, is a bit like a pop-up book made of wood. The pauses between scenes are fairly minimal. Maestro Nicola Luisotti had the orchestra sounding robust and lush. There were times when the singing was lost, this was especially evident at the end of Act I, when the male and female ensembles share the stage.
There was much fine singing all around. Joel Sorensen is a hysterical, mincing Dr. Caius. Greg Fedderly (Bardolfo) and Andrea Silvestrelli (Pistola) sounded great and are wonderful actors. Fabio Capitanucci had some nice moments as Ford, though his voice occasionally was overwhelmed by the orchestra. Francesco Demuro sounded reedy and youthful as Fenton, and only had a bit of strain in some of his higher notes.
Renée Rapier is a charming Meg Page, and Meredith Arwady a very funny and rich-voiced Dame Quickly. Heidi Stober is perfectly adorable as Nanetta and sings with a warm brightness. Ainhoa Arteta sparkled as Alice Ford, her icy, brilliant voice is never harsh.Despite the rather even cast, Bryn Terfel is the clear star of the show. Not only did he embody the title character in all his movements, but his voice is simply a marvel. He sang with velvety warmth but also buoyant lightness when appropriate.
* Tattling *
Standing room attendance was sparse. I arrived at 7:15pm and had Standing Room Ticket 19.
There was much use of mobile phones during the pauses between scenes. It seems that young people do not take the announcement to turn off electronic devices seriously. That said, I did not hear any rings or alerts at the back of the balcony.