Dutch National Opera presents


This show was to been seen in June 2014

Verdi’s merry swan song


Giuseppe Verdi
Commedia lirica in tre atti
Libretto by Arrigo Boito
World premiere 9 February 1893, Teatro alla Scala, Milan


New production for Dutch National Opera
Premiere 7 June 2014
Co-production with Royal Opera House, London; Teatro alla Scala, Milan; Metropolitan Opera, New York; Canadian Opera Company, Toronto
A Holland Festival production

For his last opera, Verdi chose a comic figure distilled from two Shakespeare plays: the fat old knight Sir John Falstaff, whose life revolves around eating, drinking and flirting.

In short

Falstaff makes advances on two wealthy married ladies: Alice Ford and Meg Page. They have both, it seems, received identical letters from him, and conspire to teach their wooer a lesson. First he lands in the Thames with the dirty washing, and then he is set upon by a party disguised as witches and devils in Windsor Park. Only then does he come to his senses and acknowledge his folly.


Successful production
Conductor Daniele Gatti makes his first DNO appearance, leading the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Director Robert Carsen (Dialogues des Carmélites, Fidelio, Carmen) is well known to Amsterdam audiences. In the title role is today’s ultimate Falstaff: the Italian baritone Ambrogio Maestri. This production has been successfully staged in London, Milan and New York, and after Amsterdam it will travel to Toronto. In keeping with tradition, one performance of this June production will be simulcast on a large screen in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark.

Team, Cast and Chorus

Daniele Gatti
Stage Director 
Robert Carsen
Set Designer 
Paul Steinberg
Costume Designer 
Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting Designers 
Robert Carsen
Peter van Praet
Dutch National Opera Chorus
Chorus Masters 
Bruno Casoni
Thomas Eitler
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Sir John Falstaff 
Ambrogio Maestri
Massimo Cavalletti /
Serban Vasile
Paolo Fanale
Dottore Cajus 
Carlo Bosi
Patrizio Saudelli
Giovanni Battista Parodi
Mrs. Alice Ford 
Fiorenza Cedolins
Lisette Oropesa
Mrs. Quickly 
Daniela Barcellona
Mrs. Meg Page 
Maite Beaumont


Falstaff’s model
Falstaff’s comic subject sets it apart from the rest of Verdi’s operatic oeuvre (with the exception of Un giorno di regno). At the end of his career, Verdi was keen to write a comedy but could not find a suitable libretto. The librettist Arrigo Boito suggested Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, which would be the main model for Falstaff, augmented with elements from Henry IV. The opera’s premiere in La Scala in 1893 was enthusiastically received.

Youthful freshness
Boito and Verdi managed to give the Falstaff real depth – no mean task, considering the character’s clownishness. The music sparkles with youthful freshness combined with maturity and craftsmanship. The energetic, rousing finale ‘Tutto nel mondo è burla’ (Everything in the world is a jest) is, remarkably, set to the most rigid of musical forms, the fugue.


Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is at the very pinnacle of the world’s ranking of symphony orchestras. Founded in 1888, the orchestra was hailed by Gramophone magazine as ‘The World’s Greatest Orchestra’ thanks to its unique, recognizable sound and stylistic flexibility. Most recent DNO appearances: Parsifal (2012) and Falstaff (2014); in 2015 the RCO will join us for Lulu.



    Mon 27 Jan Trouw (10 juni 2014)

    ***** 'Perfection! Incredibly perfect. (…) a dazzling top performance, one of the very best given by Dutch National Opera (…) Go and see it. Seldom in a lifetime do you get the opportunity to see a production that is so flawless on all counts’.

    Mon 27 Jan Het Parool (10 juni 2014)

    **** 'Rarely have so many peals of laughter been heard (…) He [Gatti] presented the orchestra like a smoothly running Rolls-Royce’.

    Mon 27 Jan NRC Handelsblad (10 juni 2014)

    **** 'An exciting performance of Verdi’s last and most difficult opera, with the cheerful and villainous Italian baritone Ambroglio Maestri. (...) Conductor Daniele Gatti captures the spirit beautifully in stealthy runs and exciting rhythms. (...) There are countless moments of perfection’.