Verdi: Falstaff - Corena, Ligabue, Freni, Barbieri, Alva, Capecchi; Giulini. The Hague. 1963
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Star turns in Falstaff are of negligible importance. The most important element to make this opera work is simply joy. That said it is always a happy coincidence when you can assemble an all-star cast and they can muster up the energy and joy that makes this work a masterpiece. Fernando Corena takes on the title role. Missing from his voice may be the glamor that one associates with a Verdi baritone but he manages a good balance between nobility and lechery and brings both his keen skills as an actor and a comedian without ever relying on "buffo" chichés. Ilva Ligabue's Alice alternates exceptionally from the lyrical to the leggiero. Fedora Barbieri delivers an over-sized Quickly and demonstrates that she is formidable enough to stand up to the oversized knight. Mirella Freni is at her ethereal best as Nanetta and Luigi Alva is an elegant Fenton. The orchestra, under the direction of Carlo Maria Giulini explodes with vitality from the opening chords and sustains the energy and joy until the end of the fugue. The sound is excellent.