Falstaff ossia Le tre burle

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Work data
Title: Falstaff ossia Le tre burle
Shape: Dramma giocoso
Original language: Italian
Music: Antonio Salieri
Libretto : Carlo Prospero Defranceschi
Literary source: The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
Premiere: January 3, 1799
Place of premiere: Kärntnertortheater , Vienna
Playing time: approx. 2 ½ hours
Place and time of the action: Windsor in the 17th century
  • Sir John Falstaff ( bass )
  • Bardolf , his servant ( baritone )
  • Master Ford ( tenor )
  • Mrs. Ford , his wife ( soprano )
  • Master Slender ( baritone )
  • Mrs. Slender , his wife ( mezzo-soprano )
  • Betty , Mrs. Ford's maid ( soprano )
  • Friends of Ford and Slender, neighborhood, servants, people

Falstaff ossia Le tre burle (dt. Falstaff or The Three Pranks ) is a “Dramma giocoso” premiered in 1799 in two acts by Antonio Salieri based on a text by Carlo Prospero De Franceschi, based on the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare .

The first performance took place on January 3, 1799 in the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna . According to contemporary reports, the premiere was an extraordinary success, numerous numbers had to be repeated. The Viennese civil servant Carl Rosenbaum writes about this in his diary: “[...] at 5 o'clock in the Kärtnerthor Theater, where Salieri's opera Le tre burle was performed for the first time and with rare applause. Many pieces have been repeated, and a duet three times. After the opera Salieri had to show himself to the audience twice, and all the staff were called out. "

In the year of the premiere, Ludwig van Beethoven composed 10 variations for piano in B flat major (WoO 73) on the duet “La stessa, la stessissima” from the first act of Salieri's opera; Variations for piano on the same theme by Beethoven's competitor Joseph Wölfl and by Mozart's student Josepha Barbara Auernhammer have also been preserved.

The music for Falstaff is undoubtedly one of Salieri's most original works; a clever musical leadership (e.g. Mr. Ford, who is characterized by characteristics of the serious opera), paired with the successful mixture of buffa and seria elements, as well as a remarkable instrumentation with numerous expressive solo parts (among others for clarinet, violin and Violoncello) show the composer's extraordinary artistic profile. In this work, too, one can see Salieri's tendency to create larger scene complexes instead of relying on the traditional sequence of isolated numbers.

As one of the few Salieri operas, Falstaff has recently appeared on the stage more often. B. 1961 in Siena, 1975 in Verona and in Salieri's hometown Legnago, 1976 in Salzburg, 1977 in Trieste, 1981 in Verona, 1985 in Budapest, 1987 in Parma and Bordeaux, 1988 in Konstanz, 1991 in Bad Aibling, 1992 in Drottningholm , 1995 at the Schwetzingen Festival and in Rheinsberg, 1996 in Milan, 1998 in New York, 2000 again in Konstanz, 2002 in Rennes and Innsbruck, 2003 at Dankern Castle in Emsland and in Bampton / England, 2004 at the Bath Shakespeare Festival, 2005 in Vienna and in Hausen am Albis, Switzerland, 2006 in Otago / New Zealand, 2007 in Nijetrijne / Holland, 2012 in Biel / Switzerland, and 2016 in Theater an der Wien .

The opera is available as a complete recording in three different productions, the Schwetzingen performance is now available on DVD.

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