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<<  -- 3 --  Kelly Ferjutz    JOYOUS AND WELL-PACED

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The role of Mistress Quickly was taken by the marvelously capable American mezzo, Jane Henschel, with one day's notice! The role is obviously not new to her, as she appeared entirely comfortable with it. Her gesture of disgust, wiping the back of her hand after it had been kissed by Falstaff was terrific, prompting spontaneous laughter from the audience.

The sparkly, vivacious Meg of American mezzo Kelley O'Connor was delightful! Dr Caius was well-done by the dapper and suave Italian tenor, Max René Cosotti. American tenor Scott Scully and Estonian bass Ain Anger made their Cleveland Orchestra débuts respectively as Bardolfo and Pistola, also doubling as stage-hands, expertly moving the screens around the stage area. We should definitely see all of these singers again, based on their performances here. The smaller than usual chorus was well prepared by chorus director Robert Porco.

Director Andreas Zimmermann kept the story moving forward at a brisk pace, utilizing every available inch of the stage space to enhance the action. Set and costume design by Cleveland's Robin VanLear were clever and appropriate. The animal masks she created for the final scene were splendid without interfering with the singing. Perhaps the men's masks, being animal heads, were more successful, as they were easily identifiable and matched a personality trait of the character. The women's head-gear was not so easily discernable, at least to those of us in the balcony, but still added a sense of mystery and fun to the happenings.

From left to right, Vladimir Chernov (as Ford, with hand raised). Scott Scully (Bardolfo, face covered by veil), Max René Cosotti (Dr Caius, with rat headpiece), Richard Sutliff (Falstaff, above Dr Caius), Cinzia Forte (Nannetta, with bird mask headpiece)  and Cataldo Caputo (Fenton, with fox headpiece) in Act III Scene 2 of 'Falstaff'. Photo © 2006 Roger Mastroianni
From left to right, Vladimir Chernov (as Ford, with hand raised). Scott Scully (Bardolfo, face covered by veil), Max René Cosotti (Dr Caius, with rat headpiece), Richard Sutliff (Falstaff, above Dr Caius), Cinzia Forte (Nannetta, with bird mask headpiece) and Cataldo Caputo (Fenton, with fox headpiece) in Act III Scene 2 of 'Falstaff'. Photo © 2006 Roger Mastroianni

It was, all in all, a perfectly splendid evening, continuing the tradition established by Mr Welser-Möst since his first year here. Next year, he's promising us Der Rosenkavalier. It was fun to see the singers applaud the orchestra, and the orchestra applaud the singers, while the audience was cheering and applauding the entire collaboration.

Copyright © 10 June 2006 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA

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For information about Cleveland Orchestra concerts, visit the orchestra's web-site: www.clevelandorchestra.com

Falstaff will be broadcast and webcast on WCLV (104.9 FM) as part of regular weekly programming on 16 July 2006, 3.30pm, and again on Saturday 5 August 2006, 8pm.

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