February 18, 2023 | Reaction
Maestro Joseph Colaneri, music director of the Glimmerglass Opera Festival, Metropolitan Opera conductor, passionate educator and simply nuts about Verdi, is a dangerous man to know.
Show the slightest enthusiasm over Met Opera Club cocktails in Manhattan for his latest project, a Sunday matinee semi-staged performance of Verdi’s Falstaff in Washington DC, and any curious opera critic will suddenly find themselves rattling south on a four hour Amtrak odyssey. Not to the capital’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – a reasonable first assumption – but to the boondocks.
And, why was Maryland Lyric Opera (MDLO), a company based at The Music Center at Strathmore, boasting a well constructed concert hall and thriving education establishment, but no opera house, attempting such a challenging work?
The answer soon became clear. Under Maestro Colaneri’s baton we were treated to an outstanding musical and theatrical experience. Singers, chorus, orchestra and Director, David Gately, excelled themselves. Spurred on, they could do it, so the whole company rose to a seemingly impossible task.
Turned out the Music Center at Strathmore is not in Washington at all. North Bethesda in Maryland. A bit like being encouraged to attend a “do” in London only to find yourself pitching up in Leatherhead. “Er, Joe, why are you doing this?” The simple truth is, like a hound scenting truffles, any prospect of conducting the work of Giuseppe Verdi sets Maestro Colaneri’s musical antennae a-twitch.
“I can’t resist Verdi – and I just love Falstaff”. I get it. Verdi’s final opera is a comic masterpiece, written when he was nearly 80 in collaboration with librettist Arrigo Boito. Compelling stuff. A musical feast, Verdi creates a bravura mélange of all his styles, ending with the most remarkable fugue featuring principals and chorus. The fugue is Verdi’s “farewell”, and the work an emphatic rebuttal of Rossini’s snide criticism; “Verdi can’t write comedy”.