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Destination Santa Fe Opera - Larger Than Life: Verdi's Falstaff with Quinn Kelsey


Larger Than Life: Verdi’s Falstaff with Quinn Kelsey

Who’ll serve the infamous jolly knight his just desserts? The list of candidates is long, and their scheme is hilarious. All will be revealed when Falstaff, Giuseppe Verdi’s classic farce, arrives on the Santa Fe Opera stage. Host Jane Trembley speaks with Hawai’i native Quinn Kelsey about embodying the larger-than-life titular character and learns why comedy is more challenging to play than tragedy. Quinn also answers the million-dollar question: what would the celebrated Verdi baritone ask the great composer if given a chance? 

If you think you know Verdi, think again. “[Falstaff] behaves like a totally different animal,” says Quinn. The final opera of Verdi’s storied career is a comedic masterpiece propelled by complex wit, outsized swagger, and vibrant music. “John Falstaff is at that age where life is beginning to pass him by,” Quinn explains. “He still thinks he can charm the ladies, and you have to give him credit for having a huge amount of confidence.” 

It doesn’t take long for that swagger to get the jolly knight into riotous trouble. “I don’t normally get to play comedic characters,” Quinn says. Although pompous Falstaff is more serious than his fellow characters, all the fizzy stage antics are in response to his self-delusion. In a role he’s played in different ways since 2014, Quinn is more than up to the vocal and emotional challenge, fully embracing Falstaff’s hubris, hedonism, and gullibility for Sir David McVicar’s sparkling new production. “The fact that I finally get to do something with Sir David from scratch? I’m looking forward to a really fun summer.”


Quinn Kelsey – Baritone





Destination Santa Fe Opera is a Santa Fe Opera podcast, produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.

Post-Production Audio: Edwin R. Ruiz

Hosted by: Jane Trembley

Show Notes by: Lisa Widder


“If you know Verdi, you can pick out some of his signature musical things, but this is something totally unto itself and quite remarkable.”

“There are some really hilarious parts. I’m looking forward to a really fun summer.”

“There are millions of things that you’ll never learn in a university, in a college program, in a conservatory program with a teacher. There are so many things that you will just have to learn by getting on stage and doing, that there’s so many things for which only experience will teach you.”

“We all process a show day differently, and I just know, myself, that calm and cool and collected allows me to be able to be prepared.”

“Santa Fe feels so very American to me.”

“It’s called patience. It’s not a big word. It’s a really big idea. It’s the one principle that all singers have dealt with. It’s the principle that all young singers get clocked in the teeth with.”


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