Opera Idaho opened its season with a lively, beautifully sung Falstaff Friday at the Egyptian Theatre.
Reportedly the first production of Verdis comic masterpiece of counterpoint and broad character, it marks the return of director David Cox to Opera Idaho.
The opera, Verdis last, tells the story of Shakespeares The Merry Wives of Windsor. Falstaff, an aging lecher, thief and scoundrel, decides to seduce the wives of two prominent men in the hope one of them will be his benefactress. The plan fails when the ladies compare notes and decide to seek their revenge.
New York baritone Peter Castaldi makes a perfect Sir John Falstaff from head to toe with well-rounded girth. His rich voice filled this larger-than-life role to the brim then took it over the top.
His performance was layered with wonderful bits of physical comedy as blowhard and braggart, who never loses his edge, even in defeat.
Baritone Jason Detwiler was equally adept and funny as Master Ford, the would-be cuckold by Falstaffs design. Ford decides to play his own trick on Sir John, who is also caught in the ladies traps.
Leslie Mauldin and Tiffany Callas made a delightful pair as Alice Ford and Meg Page, the two ladies in question. Mauldin is wonderfully suited for the role, both with the ease of her fluid soprano and ability to play comedy.
Once again, the sure hand of conductor Steven Crawford kept the pace of the scenes lively and accented the action on stage with subtle musical nods.
The problems with the production stem from the venue. Clunky, noisy set changes disrupted the flow of the action. Also, the proximity of the orchestra to the stage makes it impossible to strike a balance and makes the singers difficult to hear in the orchestra section.
Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland