Monday, 20th November, am

140.V: H. Burton/G. Vick: Verdi’s Falstaff, colour, full screen, stereo, from BBC2 broadcast, December 1999, 143′30″ (124′52″ music)

Musically fine and cast from strength, this was an ugly production which becomes progressively more inadequate with each scene. The white costumes of the masqueraders in the final scene were well got-up but rendered feeble in the deadly context of a living tree concept. It was the first proper production of the reopened Covent Garden. The terrible reopening event had better be forgotten. Verdi’s last opera is too dry for some tastes, lacking, like Gianni Schicchi, many expansive lyrical moments. It needs a rich, ripe and humanizing production to add richness to the sparkle. Those qualities were lacking here, though the Fenton, Nanetta and Mistress Quickly were least hampered by the business or their costumes. In the title rĂ´le, Bryn Terfel triumphed over his prosthetic impediments and Haitink’s pacing was sympathetic to the singers. The orchestra played splendidly throughout. In fact the quality of the music-making was on a very high level and the tape is one worth preserving; to be honest, a sound-tape might have been a better idea.