The nice thing about seeing a production for the the third time is that one can focus on what one wants to because the big picture is already known. After two looks at the COC’s current Falstaff from the Rings I was glad to be able to see it from closer up and this time I also remembered my opera glasses. The details in the production and the Personenregie are really amazing. In the scene where Fortuna is offering gifts to Falstaff, the five cases of wine are Pétrus. In a way that’s doubly funny because although Pétrus is typically the most expensive Bordeaux today it was relatively unknown in the 1950s. My 1970’s copy of Hugh Johnson’s The Wines of Bordeaux talks of how, if he lived in France, he would certainly cultivate a number of petits fournisseurs in the relatively unknown and undervalued Pomerol appellation! Anyway, back to Falstaff. The money in the suitcase of money is clearly US currency. Nice touch. The ornaments in Mrs. Ford’s 1960s chic kitchen are hilarious. I particularly liked the glass elephants. The antics of Pistola and Bardolfo also came more sharply into focus. They nick anything that’s not nailed down. Are we sure Falstaff is from Norfolk not Liverpool? The handbag snatch in the restaurant scene is especially good.
The other thing I noticed was how much fun the audience was having. There was none of the “opera is SRS business” vibe going on. Rather, much unaffected laughter and laid back enjoyment. We could use more of that. So when do we get Gerry Finley back?