Falstaff, ossia Le tre burle. Salieri


The first performance of Falstaff, ossia Le tre burle by Antonio Salieri took place in Vienna on the 3rd of January 1799. A harmonic, perfectly musically and dramatically balanced work, containing risky (on the edge) jokes which could match Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart, it was to be a tremendous success. The plot of The Merry Wives of Windsor by Shakespeare became the ideal foundation for a classical opera buffa with its traditional disguises and transformations, love affairs and the final repentance of glutton and libertine, Falstaff. (The latter is a tribute to the moral ideals of the time of the Enlightenment, in the end of Shakespeare’s comedy he avoids the punishment). It is noteworthy that it was in the format of a libretto that Salieri and his co-author Defranceschi presented the famous comedy for the first time.

Soon after the premiere Falstaff was split into 'hits' (one of the themes became the foundation of a variation by a young Beethoven). However, with the start of the century of Romanticism, along with other operas by Salieri, Falstaff was forgotten for a long time. In the following century, music lovers associated this Shakespearian plot exclusively with the opera by Verdi (it was his Falstaff that was performed at the Bolshoi Theatre and will be performed again without a shadow of a doubt). The revival of interest in Salieri’s Falstaff, as well as in his creative works in general, happened in the beginning of the 21st century. Nowadays, his Falstaff is performed in Munich, Toronto, Vienna…

On the Russian stage it will appear for the first time. It was precisely such operas which Boris Pokrovsky, the founder of the Chamber Musical Theatre, loved to present to his faithful audience. The work by the once renowned master will be realised by the team headed by conductor Ivan Velikanov and director Alexander Khukhlin. The famous plot is recreated as an interpretation which reflects the psychology of modern society. Its Falstaff is an “infantile, naive, pure person who wants to know all that he has yet to try: dishes, drinks, relationships with women”. The high society, which is opposed to him, is “enthusiastic about toying with him”. This state of affairs, according to movement director Mikhail Kolegov, leads to the “reckless and unexpected finale”.

Falstaff rehearsals by Rychkov-1.jpg
Ivan Velikanov.

The premiere run of the production takes place at The Boris Pokrovsky Chamber Stage on the 10th, 11th, 12th & 13th of March.
Cast here.