July 6, 2000
The Graham Vicks production of FALSTAFF opened the new Covent Garden Royal Opera House, and was not to everybody's taste; the garish primary colours of the costumes. The staging is effective--the complicated counterpoint of the ensembles is reflected in unobtrusive blocking that keeps the vocal lines clear and separate, especially in the final fugue. Bryn Terfel's Falstaff is a memorable creation, self-mocking and self-aggrandising at the same time--so much so, in fact, that he almost does not need the vast prosthetic body he has to wear for the part. Desiree Rancatore is an admirably sweet-toned Nanetta; Bernadette Manca di Nissa an appropriately sardonic Mistress Quickly; Roberto Frontali as Ford, in his Act 2 scena, perfectly distils and parodies every jealousy aria ever written, including Verdi's own. Haitink's conducting is exemplary in the lyrical passages, gets almost everything out of the fast and furious comic sections.