News and Views
9:58 am
Wed May 2, 2007

FALSTAFF: Opera Company of Philadelphia

Roberto di Candia, who charmed as the Barber of Seville last season, is back at the Academy of Music, with more tricks and a lot of padding to sing the Opera Company of Philadelphia's Falstaff.

FALSTAFF: Opera Company of Philadelphia

Academy of Music

May 2, 2007

Roberto di Candia, who charmed as the Barber of Seville last season, is back at the Academy of Music, with more tricks and a lot of padding to sing the Opera Company of Philadelphia's Falstaff. Once again di Candia's the bad boy charmer. The baritone's voice isn't quite heavy enough for the role: a bass baritone better matches Falstaff's girth; but the way he uses his voice; his wit; and his gestures are what make him a regular at La Scale. As Ford, the husband Falstaff tries to cuckold, baritone Mark Stone's rages are impressive. Tenor Jesus Garcia sings the love-struck Fenton to Evelyn Pollock's lyrical Nanetta. A very good pairing. Christine Goerke is a splendidly assertive Alice Ford. The soprano reminds of Carol Vaness. Sometimes the top end of the range gets an edge, more often she is a very fine singing actress. Mistress Quickly of Meredith Arwady is superb, her comedic timing is terrific: She's a contralto: She has the resonance and projection for a title role of her own.

Robert Driver's direction is well paced; except the Windsor Forest scene which sags How to handle all those choral elves and fairies, who sing very nicely by the way. Paul Shortt's set is one of the more handsome in awhile; it adds stag-themed painted backcloths and stained glass to a stationary base to change from the Garter Inn to the Ford household Corrado Riveris keeps the orchestra moving at a swift but un-hectic pace. It's a large orchestra for a large cast who sing many ensembles. These ensembles still need polishing: Verdi doesn't let anyone off the hook with his last opera. There are challenges and more to the trombone and oboe rich writing: just when you think you've heard everything a fugue erupts that knocks you into attention, and more laughter. "Everything in life is a joke," Falstaff says. "We're all fools." The fat man gets the last word.

I'm Lesley Valdes for WRTI.


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