Verdi was almost eighty when he startled the musical world with his mastery of comic invention in his last opera, Falstaff, with its brilliant libretto by Arrigo Boito. The story is taken from Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor, although the central character is much closer to the Falstaff of Henry IV. The roguish Sir John embroils himself in numerous plots and dupes of love and marriage until eventually the Merry Wives get their revenge on him, and all plans are thwarted.
When Carlo Maria Giulini returned to conducting public performances of opera after an absence of fourteen years, he chose this comic masterpiece for the occasion. The great lyric baritone, Renato Bruson, sings the title role. Katia Ricciarelli leads the trio of merry wives with Lucia Valentini-Terrani as Mistress Quickly and Brenda Boozer as Meg Page. Leo Nucci sings the role of Ford and the young lovers are here portrayed by Dalmacio Gonzalez and Barbara Hendricks. Stunning designs by Hayden Griffen and Michael Stennett provide the perfect setting for this witty interpretation of Shakespeare's masterpiece.
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