New York City Opera Spotlight: Falstaff- Jan Opalach
15 Mar 2008
Jan Opalach sings the title role in Falstaff for New York City Opera on March 19, 21, 23 mat, 27, 29 mat, April 2, 5.
"You know how every actor aspires to do Hamlet? That's how I feel about Falstaff--another Shakespearean role. Like the title role in Figaro and Leporello in Don Giovanni, it's one of those rare, fully realized, absolutely complete characters."
"And it needs a complete singer. Consider the source! You've got three geniuses working here--Verdi, his librettist Boito, and Shakespeare. And they require the full arsenal--slapstick comedy, dramatic declamation, lyrical singing, crackerjack musicianship, trills, the ability to color your voice, etc. And the 'music' of Shakespeare's words is as integral as Verdi's music."
photo by Ron Brown/Opera Illinois
"The music functions on so many levels. There's so much subtext in the orchestra--thoughts, feelings, dramatic flavor. There's a constant subtext of sensuality, sexuality. In Act II, when both Dame Quickly and Ford pay visits to Falstaff to set him up to be caught seducing married women, there's an incredible wit and playfulness in the orchestration. You can hear Falstaff's mind churning, you can feel his arousal."
"Falstaff is so 'full', literally and figuratively. He's full of joy in all aspects of life, as shown in his larger-than-life appearance. But there's also an undercurrent of sadness. This man was a knight who was rejected by his best friend as soon as that friend became King Henry V. He's getting old, he's gone to seed, he's flat broke. Yet he's still able to transport himself back to his glory years, anytime. Even after he's been dumped in the Thames, humiliated, scared half to death, he's resilient. He says, 'Without me, you wouldn't have had such fun!' You know he's going to walk out of that forest and continue his business as usual."
"This guy has racked up pretty much all the Seven Deadly Sins--lust, gluttony, pride, envy, greed, sloth, et cetera--some more obviously then others. But somehow, he's still so unbelievably charming!"