26 May 2013

Falstaff at Glyndebourne

My second visit to Glyndebourne this year and the first in the festival was to see Verdi's Falstaff.

I went with some regular friends that made the logistics easy despite the best efforts of the traffic around the M25/M23 junction to delay me.

It was a nice day, with some breeze, so we opted to sit in the garden rather than on one of the picnic tables on the upper levels of the opera house.

Luck, and that careful planning, won us the prime location, the long bench on the large brick platform built over the boathouse last year.

The reason we wanted to be there was for this view.



Walking through the gardens is almost as important as the opera itself and the first visit of the year is when changes in the garden are discovered.

This year the garden is a little disappointing. The changes that have been made to many of the borders have left them looking rather empty. That will soon change as things grow but for the moment there is a little less to look at.

A new season means a new set of sculptures to look at. This year it is a set of male figures either slightly above life-sized or much smaller. I am afraid that they are not my cup of tea, I much prefer the grander Artemis from last year and the large horse head before that.

The art that I did like was on the safety screen in the opera house. Glyndebourne seems to have tightened up on the photography rules again having relaxed them to no photography during the performance they are now back at no photography in the house, as you can just about make out from the text above the screen.

The tapestry that the Brownies are working on is of Windsor Castle where Falstaff's story is based, not surprisingly as the opera is derived from Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor.

Falstaff is a bit footloose with the ladies and when three of them find out that he is chasing them all at the same time they plan their revenge.

This revenge comes in two separate acts where Falstaff is made a laughing stock. But the last laugh is shared and everybody is made a fool of by the Brownies tying their shoelaces together.

Along the way there is plenty of good if slight music (it is only a comic opera) and jolly singing. Falstaff is the centre of it all and he sings and acts beautifully while the ladies spin around him singing nicely too.

It is all very pleasant but that's all it is. Perhaps I have got too familiar with Glyndebourne and I now need something special to get a buzz, which this was not. Of course a Glyndebourne "average" is still good and Falstaff was a lot of fun.

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