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    Santa Fe Opera


    Verdi amazed the musical world when he crowned a lifetime of operatic tragedies with this richly comic portrait of Sir John Falstaff, featuring a flood of melodies, inexhaustible rhythms, and a quicksilver orchestral palette. Verdi’s librettist, Arrigo Boito, put it best when he said, “We got all the juice from that Shakespearean orange, without any of the seeds.”


    First performed at Milan in 1893.

    ACT I

    Scene 1 - The Garter Inn
    The outraged Dr. Caius launches an attack on the boorish behavior of Falstaff and his sidekicks, Bardolfo and Pistola, but they laugh off the complaints. In hopes of improving his fortunes, Falstaff plans to seduce two wealthy married women, Alice Ford and Meg Page. He composes identical love letters to both, which Bardolfo and Pistola refuse to deliver. Falstaff lectures them on honor and sends a pageboy as a messenger.

    Scene 2 - The Garden of Ford’s House
    Alice and Meg discover Falstaff’s duplicity and decide to turn the tables. Ford, Alice’s husband, is enraged when he finds out about Falstaff’s plan and plots his own revenge.
    Meanwhile, Alice’s daughter, Nannetta, snatches a few moments – and a few kisses – with her sweetheart, Fenton.

    ACT II

    Scene 1 - The Garter Inn
    The ladies’ friend Mistress Quickly arranges an assignation for Falstaff with Alice. But then Ford himself, disguised as “Master Brook,” arrives. He proclaims his own affection for Alice, but proposes to hire Falstaff to smooth his way by seducing her first. Falstaff gladly accepts.

    Scene 2 - Ford’s House
    Quickly reports to Alice and Meg on her visit with Falstaff. Meg and Quickly hide when Falstaff comes to pay suit. His declarations are interrupted by Ford’s furious arrival. As Ford searches the house, Falstaff hides in a basket of dirty linen. Hiding elsewhere are Nannetta and Fenton. Their noisy kissing sidetracks Ford, who has other marital plans for his daughter. Alice orders the servants to toss the laundry basket – and its occupant – out the window into the Thames River below.



    Scene 1 - The Garter Inn
    Mistress Quickly persuades Falstaff that Alice is contrite and wants another assignation, this time at midnight under an oak in Windsor Forest. Alice and the other townspeople decide to frighten Falstaff by dressing up as elves, fairies, demons and wood sprites.

    Scene 2 - Herne’s Oak in Windsor Forest

    Falstaff arrives disguised as a huntsman. The “forest spirits” torment Falstaff as part of the “Masque of the Fairy Queen,” which includes the wedding of Nannetta and Fenton. When they realize that they’ve been hoodwinked, Ford accepts his daughter’s marriage and Falstaff takes it all in good humor, declaring the world is but a joke.


    • Dr. Caius - Chris Merritt
    • Sir John Falstaff - Thomas Stewart
    • Bardolfo - Douglas Perry
    • Pistola - William Dansby
    • Meg Page - Jean Kraft
    • Alice Ford - Helen Vanni
    • Mistress Quickly - Betty Allen
    • Nannetta - Ruth Welting
    • Fenton - James Atherton
    • Ford - Brent Ellis
    • Conductor - Edo de Waart
    • Director - Colin Graham
    • Scenic Designer - Allen Charles Klein
    • Costume Designer - Suzanne Mess
    • Lighting Designer - Georg Schreiber