Verdi’s last opera staged in the Breytie

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Falstaff mit großer Weinkanne und Becher (1896) (Falstaff with big wine jar and cup, 1896) a painting by Eduard von Grützner
Falstaff mit großer Weinkanne und Becher (1896) (Falstaff with big wine jar and cup, 1896) a painting by Eduard von Grützner

Students of the Department of Performing Arts (Vocal Art), Tshwane University of Technology will perform Verdi’s Falstaff in the Breytenbach Theatre in August.

The underlying theme of the opera is that in life, we are all fools and he who laughs last, laughs best.

Best known for his dramatic operas such as La Traviata and Otello, Verdi attempted only two comic operas – his second and his last, Falstaff. Based on Shakespeare’s notorious protagonist, Falstaff captures both the delicacy and wit of Shakespearean comedy as well as the prodigious personality of Shakespeare’s rotund antihero.

Falstaff follows the antics of Sir John Falstaff, a chubby, old cad who, being short of drinking funds, decides to write love letters to two wealthy married women. Discovering his trickery, the two women decide to teach him a lesson.

The challenge for the performers is that each note and gesture is dictated by the words, which is stylistically different from most operas. It’s part of Verdi’s genius that he alone created this unique style. Falstaff sounds completely different from his other works; he found a whole new musical language for comedy.

Falstaff has fantastic arias and ensembles, but they move at such lightning speed that they cannot be savoured in the traditional way. This is quite ironic as Verdi is considered the greatest master of melody in operatic history. This phenomenon therefore requires the performers to leave and express each moment to the fullest as the music unfolds and is seldom to return.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the six performances are scheduled for 16 August (15:00), 19 August (19:30), 21 August (19:30), 22 August (19:30) and 23 August (15:00).

Tickets are R120 (adults), R100 (pensioners), and R60 (students).

For bookings, please contact 082 884 8946 / 012 382 2630, e-mail breytie@tut.ac.za or visit www.tut.ac.za/goto/breytie

* Falstaff is directed by Pierre Du Toit. The conductor is Thami Zungu with piano accompaniment by Laetitia Orlandi.

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