Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: Verdi’s ‘Falstaff’ at the Maryland Lyric Opera

The Maryland Lyric Opera is continues its celebration of Verdi, one of the world's greatest and most popular opera composers.

Maryland Lyric Opera: Falstaff, Joseph Colaneri
Maryland Lyric Opera: Maestro Joseph Colaneri

With its current “Season of Verdi,” the Maryland Lyric Opera is chiefly celebrating one of the world’s greatest and most popular opera composers, and more specifically, Giuseppe Verdi’s most accessible operas, including all three based on plays by William Shakespeare.

With that particular focus in this particular year, the company is also indirectly nodding to the 400th anniversary of what is heralded as “one of the great wonders of the literary world,” and also “the book that gave us Shakespeare,” The First Folio.

Posthumously published as Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies in November of 1623, or seven years after the Bard’s death, the anthology was the first printed collection of Shakespeare’s plays, 36 of them in all.

“Without this achievement, we would have lost half of his dramatic work,” reads a post to Folio400, a website created to celebrate the 400th anniversary. Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest are among those the world might never have known were it not for the First Folio.

Macbeth kicked off the Maryland Lyric Opera Company’s season last September, and Othello will end Verdi’s Shakespeare trilogy in March. But right now, MDLO readies the season’s third production of Verdi and second inspired by Shakespeare, Falstaff. His final masterpiece is “more than just the composer’s successful ‘comic’ opera,” as the official press release puts it, “it is also a profound meditation on humanity from an artist reflecting back on his life and career.”

With a slight twist on a famous Shakespearean adage, Verdi brings Shakespeare’s richly drawn characters from The Merry Wives of Windsor to vivid life in a tale, set to sublime music, offering the cheeky reminder that “all the world’s…a joke.”

Joseph Colaneri of the Glimmerglass Festival conducts the MDLO Orchestra in a production featuring visuals by David Gately, projections by Sarah Tundermann, and lighting by Stuart Duke.

Playing the title character of Sir John Falstaff, Mark Delavan leads an all-star cast also including Mary Feminear, Rachel Blaustein, Allegra De Vita, and Catherine Martin as the work’s unforgettable women. Brian Major co-stars as Ford and the support cast includes legendary bass Andrea Silvestrelli as Pistola.

Falstaff can be riotously funny, deeply moving, and irresistibly profound. I can’t wait for our audiences to rediscover all the layers of this fascinating masterwork,” says MDLO Founder and Artistic Director Brad Clark.

Performed in Italian with projected English supertitles. Friday, Jan. 20, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 22, at 2 p.m. The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md. Tickets are $59 to $150, or $10 for patrons with proper student ID. Visit or call 301-581-5100.

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