NEW PRODUCTION OF THE FESTIVAL D’AIX-EN-PROVENCE
A COPRODUCTION WITH OPÉRA NATIONAL DE LYON, KOMISCHE OPER BERLIN, BOLSHOÏ THEATER OF RUSSIA
— WITH THE SUPPORT OF MADAME ALINE FORIEL-DESTEZET, GRANDE DONATRICE EXCLUSIVE DU THÉÂTRE DE L’ARCHEVÊCHÉ
The comic character may, strictly speaking, be quite in accord with stern morality. All it has to do is to bring itself into accord with society.Henri Bergson, Laughter (1899)
Falstaff is Verdi’s spiritual last will and testament, a late-life work in which he embraced the challenge of an entire lifetime—i.e., the desire to win renown for comic opera. In this comical masterpiece, things sparkle and shine, and unfold in a single movement, with rare wit and refinement, culminating in an enchanting extravaganza. Daniele Rustioni and the Orchestra of the Opéra de Lyon create a veritable marvel, and impel the comic force of the colourful troupe, who have been perfectly chosen for this work. But who, pray tell, is Falstaff? He is both superb and ridiculous, an aging playboy, a penniless knight, and an incorrigible optimist: undoubtedly, the composer recognized himself in this figure of the insufferable yet endearing old man. Barrie Kosky transforms him into a carnivalesque figure, thus taking us back to the very origins of our culture via this excessive being who turns to his vices of food, drink and sex in an effort to combat his fear of death. He is also a true loner, but one who wishes to be loved, and who has constructed a bitter-sweet philosophy of life: “The whole world is a farce, and man is born a fool.” This profound reflection on life, in which something existential springs forth from the banal, is a distinctive feature of Verdi’s genius.