Falstaff in Berlin



deutscheGiuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901)

Commedia lirica in three acts
Libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on William Shakespeare’s „The Merry Wives of Windsor“

First performed on 9. February, 1893 at Milan
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 17. November, 2013

In Italian language with German and English surtitles


Just as Shakespeare’s comedies never get bogged down in tattiness but always explore the sadness and loneliness behind the mask of tomfoolery, so too is Verdi’s late work, FALSTAFF, much more than a light-hearted run-around. Basing his FALSTAFF on the Bard’s “Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Henry IV”, Verdi created one of the quirkiest scores of the 19th century, one that takes the theatre itself as the central theme of the piece.


Society repeatedly equates a Falstaff encounter with an open season for lies and masquerades. The story presents us with a pretend rendezvous, a husband disguised as a spy and a collective ghost staged in a park at night. Falstaff is the individualistic outsider stirring up the comfortable status quo with his otherness and inducing the bourgeoisie to act, to produce theatre, to be anarchical.


Verdi penned FALSTAFF around the time that he was setting up his “Casa Verdi” home for retired musicians in Milan. The opera is at once a testimony to the youthfulness and experience of a composer shortly before his 80th birthday. The work deals with the ageing process and touches on issues such as loneliness and depression. Ever present, however, is the spirit of the closing fugue: “Tutto nel mondo è burla. / Everything in the world is but a joke.”


Kindly supported by Förderkreis der Deutschen Oper Berlin e. V.

Presented by Yorck Kinogruppe


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