The Bay Shore Lyric Opera, based in Saratoga, is all about accessibility. They aim to provide high-quality staged productions, costumes and all, for a low cost at family-friendly venues throughout the Bay Area. To that end, their performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff, part of their Opera in the Park series, is reaching all the way down to Henry Miller Library on August 24.
A comedy of lust, trickery and seduction, Falstaff was Verdi’s last of his 28 operas, and only his second comedy. Arrigo Boito adapted the libretto (a script for opera) from William Shakespeare’s Henry IV and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
The story is about the scheming, fat knight Falstaff and two of his cohorts, Bardolfo and Pistola. Falstaff comes up with a plan to simultaneously woo two women to gain access to their husbands’ riches. Only one problem: The women find out Falstaff’s plan, as do their husbands, and concoct their own plan to get back at Falstaff.
Verdi’s final major work is almost always presented in its original language, Italian. This production is in English.
“Bay Shore Lyric Opera’s mission is to present opera that is accessible to the masses,” says John Graulty, the opera’s conductor and dean of arts at Cabrillo College. “It doesn’t impact the music at all. It’s just English against the same melodies.”
Though Falstaff wasn’t as popular as some of Verdi’s other pieces – it was criticized for lacking strong melodies – Graulty thinks the performers really carry this show. “All 10 principal characters are amazing performers,” he says.
Because of the small space, there will not be an orchestra. The actors in this production will be supported by piano.