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    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 - Michael Hendrick
    • Sir John Falstaff - Andrew Shore
    • Bardolfo - Anthony Laciura
    • Pistola - Wilbur Pauley
    • Meg Page - Judith Christin
    • Alice Ford - Alwyn Mellor
    • Mistress Quickly - Jill Grove
    • Mistress Quickly - Kathleen Kuhlmann
    • Nannetta - Danielle de Niese
    • Fenton - Gregory Turay
    • Ford - Scott Hendricks
    • Conductor - Alan Gilbert
    • Director - Jonathan Miller
    • Scenic Designer - Robert Israel
    • Costume Designer - Clare Mitchell
    • Lighting Designer - Duane Schuler
    • Chorus Master - Robert Wood


    Isabel Leonard (Costanza)


    Amanda Majeski (Ottone)


    Meredith Arwady (Griselda)


    David Daniels (Roberto)


    Yuri Minenko (Corrado)


    Paul Groves (Gualtiero)


    Grant Gershon (Conductor)


    Peter Sellars (Director)


    Gronk (Scenic Designer)


    Dunya Ramicova (Costume Designer)


    James F. Ingalls (Lighting Designer)


    Video and Audio

    Agitata da due venti (5:05 duration)

    Costanza's description of being tossed by contrary winds on the billowing seas displays Vivaldi's gift for musical depictions of natural events—so prominent in his most famous work, The Four Seasons.

    Veronica Cangemi (Costanza), Jean-Christophe Spinosi conducts Ensemble Matheus. To purchase this Naive recording click here.


    Sonno, se pur sei sonno (1:07 duration)

    Griselda prays for sleep. Vivaldi's ability to create a poignant mood through the simplest musical means is clearly demonstrated.

    Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Griselda), Jean-Christophe Spinosi conducts Ensemble Matheus. To purchase this Naive recording click here.

    David Daniels (Roberto) & Isabel Leonard (Costanza) rejoice.
    Isabel Leonard sings Costanza's famous aria, "Agitata"
    Griselda (Meredith Arwady), alone and forsaken, contemplates her fate.
    Griselda (Meredith Arwady), listens to the King's faithful servant, Corrado (Yuri Minenko)
    Interview with Peter Sellars

    Part 1 (4:49)


    Interview with Peter Sellars

    Part 2 (4:02)


    Interview with Peter Sellars

    Part 3 (4:39)


    Interview with Peter Sellars

    Part 4 (3:56)