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After Triumphant Return to the Met, James Levine Leads New Production of Verdi's 'Falstaff'

By Louise Burton on Nov 20, 2013 11:46 PM EST

James Levine returned to the Metropolitan Opera podium to lead a production of Così fan tutte in September that was rapturously received by audience members. During a recent Metropolitan Opera Guild luncheon held in his honor, Levine said "Because of my artistic life commitment to the Met, returning to conducting there is truly like being reborn."

And now Levine will lead a new production of Verdi's Falstaff, directed by Robert Carsen. The gala première of this new production of Verdi's comic masterpiece will take place on December 6. Falstaff remains one of Levine's favorites; he has conducted this opera a total of 56 times at the Met since 1972.

The new production stars Ambrogio Maestri in the basso buffo role of Sir John Falstaff, the boorish, blustery character who originated in Shakespeare's Henry IV and Merry Wives of Windsor.

Angela Meade sings Alice Ford, one of many objects of Falstaff's affection, and Stephanie Blythe is the sharp-tongued Mistress Quickly in a cast that also includes Lisette Oropesa as Nannetta, Jennifer Johnson Cano as Meg Page, Paolo Fanale in his Met debut as Fenton, and Franco Vassallo as Ford.

Director Robert Carsen has set the action in 1950s-era England, a time of faded gentility and a rapidly growing middle class. This is the first new production of Falstaff at the Met in 50 years.

The production was premièred in London to great acclaim in 2012. John Allison of The Telegraph called it, "a wonderful show... witty, well-sung, and magically staged." WQXR music critic Fred Plotkin said, "This Falstaff perfectly achieves the balance of music, storytelling, design, enchantment and that most elusive element: genuine human feeling."

Performances of Falstaff will run through January 11. The opera will be presented live in HD on December 14 at 12:55 p.m. EST, as part of The Met: Live in HD series. For more information on theaters nationwide participating in this series, please visit metoperafamily.org.

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TagsJames Levine, The Metropolitan Opera, Verdi, Falstaff, Così fan tutte, Robert Carsen, Ambrogio Maestri, Angela Meade, Stephanie Blythe

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