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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | October 18, 1997
Verdi's "Falstaff" is one of the greatest of all operas, it's one of the few without a single superfluous note, and there isn't a moment that calls for conventional vocal display. It is also an opera that cannot succeed without an exceptionally fine cast and a superb conductor.What a pleasure to report, therefore, that the Baltimore Opera Company's new production, which opened last Thursday at the Lyric Opera House, is a success on almost all counts.Vocally and dramatically, this performance was dominated by the Falstaff of Sherrill Milnes.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | August 13, 2013
"Falstaff," the last of Giuseppe Verdi's operas, is a marvel. From the first notes, the musical inventiveness never stops. And, thanks in large measure to the libretto Arrigo Boito fashioned from Shakespeare, the opera is a continual theatrical delight, with many a delicious character and comic situations that still deliver. To wrap up its season, Wolf Trap Opera offers an exhilarating production of this gem. If you haven't been yet -- and, especially, if you are one of those folks who has never warmed to "Falstaff" (the piece rarely sets box offices ablaze)
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By Cary Smith and Cary Smith,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | November 11, 1996
Suddenly Shakespeare is all the rage.The Bard is back at your local multiplex with "Romeo and Juliet" and Al Pacino's take on Richard III. "Twelfth Night" and "Hamlet" are soon to follow. Peabody Opera Theatre gets in on the act with its current production of "Falstaff," based on the portly and port-drinking knight of "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and "Henry IV."This is, of course, Shakespeare as filtered through the Italian of librettist Arrigo Boito, and the focus is on the great music of Giuseppe Verdi.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,tim.smith@baltsun.com | October 13, 2009
Verdi's "Falstaff," the astonishing product of a 79-year-old-composer, is getting a freshly conceptualized treatment from Washington National Opera. Some of the bare-bones physical material comes from a co-production with the Royal Opera and other opera companies, but director Christian R?th has devised something new out of it for this run of performances at the Kennedy Center, the WNO's first "Falstaff" in more than 25 years. Given the last moments of the work, with its hearty, "the whole world is a jest" message, it's easy to see where R?
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | July 13, 2005
According to literary lore, Queen Elizabeth was so delighted with Shakespeare's creation of Sir John Falstaff in the history plays, she requested a play showing the ribald, fat knight in love. What she got in The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy in which Falstaff is teased, taunted and mildly tortured at the hands of the two Windsor housewives he brazenly attempts to woo simultaneously. Falstaff is forced to hide in a basket of dirty laundry, then to dress as an old witch. Finally, he's poked, pinched and burned with tapers by villagers posing as fairies and sprites.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,tim.smith@baltsun.com | October 13, 2009
Verdi's "Falstaff," the astonishing product of a 79-year-old-composer, is getting a freshly conceptualized treatment from Washington National Opera. Some of the bare-bones physical material comes from a co-production with the Royal Opera and other opera companies, but director Christian R?th has devised something new out of it for this run of performances at the Kennedy Center, the WNO's first "Falstaff" in more than 25 years. Given the last moments of the work, with its hearty, "the whole world is a jest" message, it's easy to see where R?
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | February 3, 2007
The Kirov Opera took machine guns, knives, whips and even a chain saw to Verdi's comic masterpiece Falstaff this week. The result proved fascinating and sometimes funny, occasionally pretentious and even vulgar. Revisionism is so common now in opera that it can be almost a letdown to see a work presented in traditional, literal fashion. But there's still something unsettling about Producers Gone Wild (or Amok). Poor, decon- structed Falstaff never had a chance. If you go The Kirov Opera's Falstaff will be performed at 7:30 tonight at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | November 7, 1996
While there is some competition from such mere septuagenarians as Claudio Monteverdi, Richard Wagner and Leos Janacek, the greatest opera ever written in old age is Giuseppe Verdi's "Falstaff," completed in his 80th year.Nothing about "Falstaff," which the Peabody Opera Theatre will perform tonight through Saturday in Friedberg Hall, suggests the work of a man as old as Verdi was when it was finished in 1893.The piece bustles with activity, demonstrating at every turn its composer's unflagging energy and invention.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,Sun Theater Critic | September 27, 1994
Few sequels are as successful as the originals, and that's certainly proved true of Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Part 2." But Michael Kahn, artistic director of Washington's Shakespeare Theatre, has devised a production that not only does justice to the sequel, it uses it to expand and illuminate the themes in Part 1.Kahn has done this by abridging Parts 1 and 2 and mounting them as a single four-hour production, jointly titled "Henry IV."By the time Prince Hal is crowned Henry V at the end of the evening, the issues of honor, loyalty, justice and responsibility -- all introduced in Part 1 -- have been thoroughly explored.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,Theater Critic | July 5, 1993
Legend holds that Shakespeare wrote "The Merry Wives of Windsor" because Queen Elizabeth I wanted to see more of Sir John Falstaff, the fat knight she enjoyed in the "Henry IV" plays. Legend does not tell us what she thought of seeing him shamed, pinched, stuffed into a basket of dirty laundry and even burned with candles, as he is in Shakespeare's comic spinoff.It's a rather pathetic role for the knight whom Prince Hal once regarded as a father figure. That may explain why it's generally easier to laugh at the characters who surround Falstaff in "Merry Wives."
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | December 15, 2007
In his last years, Verdi drew extraordinary inspiration from Shakespeare, producing two equally compelling swan songs - Otello and Falstaff, each with its own remarkable combination of musical sophistication and theatrical sureness. This being the age of directorial license, both works are candidates for rethinking. If you go Verdi's Otello will be performed at 3 p.m. tomorrow at the John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | February 3, 2007
The Kirov Opera took machine guns, knives, whips and even a chain saw to Verdi's comic masterpiece Falstaff this week. The result proved fascinating and sometimes funny, occasionally pretentious and even vulgar. Revisionism is so common now in opera that it can be almost a letdown to see a work presented in traditional, literal fashion. But there's still something unsettling about Producers Gone Wild (or Amok). Poor, decon- structed Falstaff never had a chance. If you go The Kirov Opera's Falstaff will be performed at 7:30 tonight at the Kennedy Center, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington.
FEATURES
By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | November 15, 2005
Five years after the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra scored a remarkable success with an opera in concert form - Tchaikovsky's shimmering Iolanta, one of music director Yuri Temirkanov's greatest moments here - the ensemble is finally returning to the format, and in a daring way. Duke Bluebeard's Castle, an hourlong, infrequently encountered opera written in 1911 by Bela Bartok, is a masterpiece of Expressionist and Symbolist art. On the surface, it's...
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | July 13, 2005
According to literary lore, Queen Elizabeth was so delighted with Shakespeare's creation of Sir John Falstaff in the history plays, she requested a play showing the ribald, fat knight in love. What she got in The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy in which Falstaff is teased, taunted and mildly tortured at the hands of the two Windsor housewives he brazenly attempts to woo simultaneously. Falstaff is forced to hide in a basket of dirty laundry, then to dress as an old witch. Finally, he's poked, pinched and burned with tapers by villagers posing as fairies and sprites.
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By Ariel Sabar and Ariel Sabar,SUN STAFF | September 10, 2003
As he leads his Naval Academy classroom through a Shakespeare sonnet, English Professor David Allen White is by all appearances an actor on a stage. He gnashes his teeth, growls, thwacks the lectern, furrows his brows, lets out a belly laugh, shudders, leers. He is a wild man on a campus of regimented order. "The theme of this sonnet is lust," White announces to the midshipmen, who seem suddenly transfixed despite the early hour. Shakespeare "will give you a sense of what it's all about when hormones are racing and you've got to get it," he says.
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By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | July 3, 2003
For greed, jealousy and lust tweaked by love, mistaken identities and some slapstick yuks right out of vaudeville, it doesn't get much better than William Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor. That explains the peals of laughter from Annapolis' Summer Garden Theatre where Mistresses Page and Ford - two of Windsor's merriest wives - are at work humiliating jealous husbands and Sir John Falstaff, the fat, lecherous knight seeking to bed them both. Summer Garden's Merry Wives, which is in production at the outdoor theater across from the City Dock, will not dazzle you with footwork, as group dynamics have pretty much been relegated to the "stand and deliver" school of Shakespearean stagecraft.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | December 15, 2007
In his last years, Verdi drew extraordinary inspiration from Shakespeare, producing two equally compelling swan songs - Otello and Falstaff, each with its own remarkable combination of musical sophistication and theatrical sureness. This being the age of directorial license, both works are candidates for rethinking. If you go Verdi's Otello will be performed at 3 p.m. tomorrow at the John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Virginia and New Hampshire avenues Northwest, Washington.
NEWS
By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | July 3, 2003
For greed, jealousy and lust tweaked by love, mistaken identities and some slapstick yuks right out of vaudeville, it doesn't get much better than William Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor. That explains the peals of laughter from Annapolis' Summer Garden Theatre where Mistresses Page and Ford - two of Windsor's merriest wives - are at work humiliating jealous husbands and Sir John Falstaff, the fat, lecherous knight seeking to bed them both. Summer Garden's Merry Wives, which is in production at the outdoor theater across from the City Dock, will not dazzle you with footwork, as group dynamics have pretty much been relegated to the "stand and deliver" school of Shakespearean stagecraft.
NEWS
By Jules Witcover | August 13, 2001
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Please bear with me today, folks, while an old political reporter who has just finished covering the National Governors' Conference here indulges in a bit of nostalgia about the place where, exactly half a century ago, he began his romance with daily newspapering. In the summer of 1951, a very uncertain greenhorn came to work at the Providence Journal, then arguably the best in New England in those days when Boston was regarded as the graveyard of American journalism.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | October 18, 1997
Verdi's "Falstaff" is one of the greatest of all operas, it's one of the few without a single superfluous note, and there isn't a moment that calls for conventional vocal display. It is also an opera that cannot succeed without an exceptionally fine cast and a superb conductor.What a pleasure to report, therefore, that the Baltimore Opera Company's new production, which opened last Thursday at the Lyric Opera House, is a success on almost all counts.Vocally and dramatically, this performance was dominated by the Falstaff of Sherrill Milnes.
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