Temple Times Online Edition
    APRIL 20, 2006
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Opera Theater to stage Verdi’s ‘Falstaff’


Photo by Joseph V. Labolito/University Photography

Third-year DMA candidate in voice Youngjoo An (front) and master’s in opera candidate Kuwon Lee perform in the Temple Opera Theater production of Falstaff this Friday and Sunday.

Audiences absolutely love this rollicking comic opera, says guest director Leland Kimball of Verdi’s Falstaff, the Opera Theater’s spring production, with performances (sung in Italian, with supertitles) this weekend.

“The 400-year-old debate among opera aficionados is whether people come to hear the beautiful melodies or for the story,” said Kimball, who is producing artistic director for Opera Delaware.

“With Falstaff, Verdi makes it a moot point: He’s created a perfect balance between the importance of words and the importance of music with his own beautiful melodies, his brilliant librettist Boito, and the larger-than-life rascally hero he’s taken from Shakespeare, who sets the plot in motion.”

Falstaff follows the antics of Sir John Falstaff, a corpulent, conniving cad who’s down on his luck and decides to write love letters to two wealthy married women.

Upon discovering his treachery, the two women decide to teach Falstaff a lesson and set him up for a series of humiliating debacles to take their revenge. Singing the title role is Kuwon Lee, a master’s in opera candidate in Boyer College of Music and Dance.

In addition to the comic tangle of plots and counterplots, Falstaff offers up the conflict of the rich versus the servant class, young lovers defying the dictates of their families, and a magical forest complete with dancing sprites.

The staging of the Temple production represents a collaboration with the Peabody Opera Theatre in Baltimore, which presented Falstaff last fall. The two companies pooled their resources and shared sets, costumes and props.

When: Friday, April 21, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 23, 3 p.m.
Where: Tomlinson Theater.
Tickets are $20 general admission; $12 for seniors, students and Temple employees; and free for Temple students with TUid. Cash-only sales are available at www.liacourascenter.com or 1-888-OWLS-TIX. For more information, call 215-204-7600.

“Given the ever-rising costs of mounting a production, it enables us to present a higher quality product on the stage, in terms of the design values,” noted John Douglas, music director for Temple Opera Theater, who will conduct a 46-piece student orchestra from the Boyer College.

The Metropolitan Ballet Academy is providing the dancers.
“It’s mesmerizing, an exquisite production to watch,” Douglas said.

“And musically, it’s a tour de force, with some ravishingly beautiful, hummable music nested in a complex musical structure.

“Falstaff was Verdi’s last opera, written when he was nearly 80, and he put everything he knew — about music, operatic singing and staging — into it. It’s packed with ideas, humor, drama, emotions and a lot of surprises.”

- By Harriet Goodheart