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2018, ROH London, Falstaff



Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Librettist: Arrigo Boito, after Shakespeare’s comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor

Venue and Dates: Royal Opera House, London
07, 10, 13, 16, 19 and 21 (matinee) July 2018


Sir John Falstaff : Bryn Terfel
Alice Ford : Ana María Martínez
Ford : Simon Keenlyside
Nannetta : Anna Prohaska
Fenton: Frédéric Antoun
Mistress Quickly :  Marie-Nicole Lemieux
Meg Page: Marie McLaughlin
Dr Caius : Carlo Bosi / Peter Hoare (19 and 21 July)
Bardolph : Michael Colvin
Pistol :  Craig Colclough
Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House


This production will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 22 September 2018 at 18.30 hrs UK time – click here for link to the broadcast.

There will be a repeat broadcast of this wonderful production on BBC Radio 3 on Thursday 28 November 2019 at 2pm. Click here for link.

Photo Gallery


Sound bites

Classical Source, 09.07.18,Nick Breckenfield

(4 stars, review contains photos)

 “….The two principal male leads have both sung their parts at this house, but in the previous (and more radical) Graham Vick production, from 1999. As it happened they had not shared the stage together in this opera in London before, and appear now as newly knighted (Simon Keenlyside was made a Sir just last month, following Bryn Terfel’s gong in 2017)……With such a strong cast, well-versed in the opera, it boded well as a lovely summer entertainment and so it proved…..

Terfel is Falstaff from his eyebrows to his toes, a glint ever in his eye, even if he makes him perhaps far too likeable. Keenlyside has more fun, able to play grey-suited but green-hearted Ford – so caught up in his jealous rage over his wife’s supposed infidelity that he doesn’t notice her plotting to allow their daughter to marry Fenton (when Ford favours Dr Caius) – and the gold-lamé-sporting Brook who pays Falstaff to have an affair with Alice. Ford is just as ridiculed as Falstaff, a fact that Falstaff recognises in the final chorus – the whole world is a joke…..”

The Stage, 09.07.18, Yehuda Shapiro

(3 stars, with production photo)

“…This revival of Robert Carsen’s 2012 staging of Verdi’s final opera seems to have everything you could ask for. Appropriately enough, it even stars two baritone knights, Bryn Terfel and Simon Keenlyside – yet it proves strangely unsatisfying….

As her husband, Keenlyside puts all his subtle artistry into persuading us he is a visceral Verdi baritone….”

OperaWire, 09.07.18, Sophia Lambton

“….Ford is perhaps the opera’s only character carried away by enflamed passions of rage – not just feelings of grievance and sour injustice. As he visits Falstaff in the guise of “Signor Fontana”, we can already hear underneath his pretence that growl-like, increasing crescendo that expands little by little with an intensified use of vibrato. It’s the sign of a seething anger set quickly to bubble and pop. Simon Keenlyside presents Ford as a victim of deceit more than a pawn of antics and chicanery; his accusatory roulade on the “ga” of “madrigale” – when he sings of how his “courtship” of Alice involved singing a madrigal – forecasts impending wrath. By the time he’s convinced of his wife’s imminent adultery and sings “È sogno o realtà” – “Is this a dream, or is it real?” – the markedly slow diminuendi let the audience know that Keenlyside prefers to imbue his character with genuine psychology, rather than simply subscribe to the slapstick, over-the-top genre of which this opera is part….”

Daily Telegraph, 08.07.18, Rupert Christiansen

(3 stars, free, but registration required)

“….Ford comes across as a thrustingly arriviste car dealer or estate agent, married to Alice, a desperate housewife proud of her dream Formica-covered kitchen in which Falstaff meets his first humiliation.

Simon Keenlyside has fun with Ford’s bluster, and sings his jealousy monologue expertly……”

Evening Standard, 09.07.18, Barry Millington

(4 stars, contains several production photos)

“…Ford is a self-made businessman, though when he visits Falstaff disguised as Mister Brook, he’s dressed as a spiv in shiny silk-lined jacket and cowboy hat… Ford is eventually forced to accept Fenton, a former waiter, as his son-in-law. In one scene he dashes the cloth cap from Fenton’s head, turning a blind eye while his preferred suitor, Dr Caius, gropes his daughter….

Simon Keenlyside’s Ford is also wonderfully sung,….”

Seen and Heard International, 09.07.18, Colin Clarke

“…And Sir Bryn was not the only knight on stage, for there were two Sir Baritones: it is now Sir Simon Keenlyside, a richly deserved recognition. Keenlyside owned the role of Ford/Brook; how he must have loved the bling as Brook. His solo outpouring of jealousy, too, was palpable….”

The Times, 10.07.18, Geoff Brown

(4 stars, fee payable)

“…Simon Keenlyside barrels through as the jealous Ford without leaving room for much vocal personality; a bit of a drawback…..”

A Younger Theatre, 10.07.18, Dan Rubins

“…That quartet, especially delightful in their Act I plotting scene, sets a series of traps to humiliate Falstaff (including his famous tumble out the window in a laundry basket), while simultaneously avoiding the wrath of Ford, Alice’s husband (the celebrated baritone Simon Keenlyside) who suspects his wife and detests his daughter’s lower-class suitor Fenton (Frédéric Antoun, also lovely)…..

And even if Keenlyside imbues his Ford with less specificity of character than do his cast-mates, he remains a musical delight…..”

Bachtrack, 11.07.18, Mark Pullinger

(4 stars)

“…The men weren’t quite as strong, although Simon Keenlyside made much of Ford’s jealousy….”

The Guardian, 14.07.18, Fiona Maddocks

“…The other bonus was Simon Keenlyside as the cocky Ford, hair slicked back, square suit, like Sinatra in Pal Joey, delivering his big “cuckold” aria with dark vehemence and clearly relishing the quickfire joshing with Terfel….”

Independent, 11.07.18, Michael Church

(3 stars)

“……Simon Keenlyside’s thunderous Ford, on the other hand, is an intensely physical creation, mingling comedy and impotent pathos…..”

Opera Spy, 13.07.18, David Buchler

“….Special mention too to the thunderous Ford of Simon Keenlyside, who held our attention throughout, both vocally and in his presentation.  However, the main plaudits must go to the Falstaff of the wide girthed Bryn Terfel, whose substantial baritone voice and presence was felt and enjoyed all evening.

Both Terfel and Keenlyside and the ensemble generally made this a really worthwhile and enjoyable evening….”

Wales Arts Review, 14.07.18, David Truslove

“…..He’s got first class support here too with Sir Simon Keenlyside, who impresses as a jealous Ford and partners him with distinction when singing as Brook and looking every inch like a used car salesman……”

Opera Today, 09.07.18, Claire Seymour

“….As a shiny-suited Ford, Simon Keenlyside was a powerfully bitter presence amid the sugary self-indulgence. Surely his disguise, as Brook, would have fooled no one, the lavish ease of his rock-star locks and flamboyant shirt overshadowed by a rage aria which was frighteningly vicious, but which could have done with a bit more punch in the lower register…..”

Express, 12.07.18, Bill Hartston

(4 stars)

“….The two main male roles, Falstaff and Ford, are beautifully played and sung by Bryn Terfel and Simon Keenlyside…..  His (Terfel’s) singing, comic timing and repertoire of telling expressions makes him perfect for this role, while Keenlyside, despite a much smaller role, took his share of the credit displaying excellent comic skills as well as a glorious voice that seems to get stronger every time I hear him. …..”

WhatsonStage, 16.07.18, Mark Valencia

(4 stars)

“…Which brings us to the male leads, a seasoned pair of operatic knights who combine to ace the show in a masterclass of scene-stealing and scenery-gobbling. If opera singing were a duel, Sir Simon and Sir Bryn would have skewered their seconds and the arbiter as well as each other, along with any passing wildlife.

Ford may appear to be a supporting role but it isn’t when Simon Keenlyside sings it. Happily restored to full vocal and physical agility after a difficult few years, this jewel among English baritones captures every flicker of confusion and jealousy in a man who suspects he’s a cuckold. He is magnetic of face and voice, and he delivers his character’s angry soliloquy “È sogno? o realtà” with the stage-engulfing command of a true star….”





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