Listen to a Sample:
Vittorio Gui conducts a frothy, finely-tuned performance of the only opera to improve Shakespeare. There’s a magical opening to act three and the deflating balloon that is the transition from Ford’s aria to Falstaff’s entrance is beautifully handled. The final Fugue is taken at something less than the usual breakneck pace, to its benefit, and The Royal Philharmonic crackles under Maestro Gui. The cast is very strong, lead by Geraint Evans in a role that would soon become a signature, offering a lesson in word painting in Falstaff's great monologues. Oralia Dominguez is a solid Quickly, but she doesn’t steal the show the way that one can in this role; scene-stealing honors go to Hugues Cuénod’s hilariously priggish Dr. Cajus and Antonio Boyer's powerful, melodious Ford. Juan Oncina and Antonietta Pastori are well-matched if a bit pale as the lovers, and Orietta Moscucci, a name formerly unknown to me, is a sparkling Alice.