Parlando: The COC Blog


Falstaff Listening Guide

By Gianmarco Segato, Adult Programs Manager



When Falstaff premiered at La Scala, Milan in 1893it landed at the centre of a critical controversy raging between two opposing points of view. 

On one side, there were those who saw the future of Italian opera as lying within the “Wagnerian” camp; that is, in compositions that veered in the direction of orchestral complexity, constant melodic development, a reduction of the role of the melodic line and, the subordination of music to the text – elements not generally associated with the great Italian bel canto tradition in which melody and the singing line dominated.

A second, opposing group of Italian critics asserted that Verdi did actually achieve perfection with Falstaff – that it stood at the summit of his career. They explained away the Wagnerian “problem” by attributing Falstaff’s musical innovation to the internal creative development of Verdi’s mind as opposed to any wholesale adoption of Germanic influences.

So, where does Verdi himself fall in this critical maelstrom? He did make it clear his last opera would be quite different from anything he’d previously written. It was to be the comedy he always wanted to compose and from a musical point of view, Verdi said he wrote it as much for his own amusement as for the public’s. 

Verdi’s Falstaff is extremely rich, inventive, and fast-paced; the orchestration is sensitive to every shift in the language of Arrigo Boito’s libretto – so, when an image in the text changes, the music turns on a dime and adopts a different tempo and mood, befitting the tone of the text.  Paradoxically, this extreme invention is probably also the reason why, at first, audiences did not embrace this opera in quite the same way as they had with Verdi’s earlier works. There is a fleeting quality about it. Falstaffcontains an abundance of melody, without much repetition; tunes come and go almost before they can be grasped. The immediately memorable, hummable tunes of Rigoletto and La Traviata are no longer foremost on the composer’s agenda.


Posted by Kiersten Hay / in Falstaff / comments (0) / permalink


Artist Basics - Kelly Kaduce

Kelly Kaduce comes to the Canadian Opera Company full of the passion needed to portray one of Puccini's most iconic, and tragic, characters. 

What’s she doing with us? This is Kelly's debut with the COC, sharing the title role with Patricia Racette in the COC’s acclaimed production of Madama Butterfly. Like Patricia, she has sung Cio-Cio San in several productions, with Santa Fe Opera, West Australia Opera, and Portland Opera.


Posted by Meighan Szigeti / in Madama Butterfly / comments (1) / permalink


Artist Basics: Patricia Racette

Patricia Racette


This fall, two singers make their Canadian Opera Company debuts in the role of a teenage girl whose passion, heartbreak and sorrow requires the power and emotions of a rich soprano. Singing six of these performances is a woman who has built her career upon this role and made it her own: Patricia Racette!

What she's doing with us: American soprano Patricia Racette makes her COC debut as the tragic Cio-Cio San in one of the best-loved operas of all time, Puccini's, Madama Butterfly.


Posted by Kristin McKinnon / in Madama Butterfly / comments (0) / permalink

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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001

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