DVD0078. FALSTAFF, Live Performance, 10 April, 2001, w.Muti Cond. La Scala Ensemble, Teatro Verdi, Busseto; Ambrogio Maestri, Juan Diego Flórez, Roberto Frontali, Barbara Frittoli, Inva Mula, Bernadette Manca di Nissa, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Paolo Barbacini, Ernesto Gavazzi, etc. Stage director: Ruggero Cappuccio, after the historical 1913 staging by the Teatro Verdi, Busseto featuring the original 1913 drops painted by Edoardo Marchiorio. (E.U.) EuroArts 20 5127 9. Sealed Copy. – 880242512796
"The stage pictures – mostly in subdued greys and browns, with great pools of shadow flooding through soft shafts of silver light – seem like drawings of an Old Master miraculously come to life….Mr Cappuccio hears the music as few directors do, even to a fault. Nary a sforzando and scarcely a pizzicato rises from the pit without some corresponding spasm on the stage. The show bears witness, too, to Mr Cappuccio’s eye for a pretty picture. He revels in balletic poses and broad jokes and has a soft spot for intrusive mime."
- Matthew Gurewitsch, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 29 April, 2001
"A production of Teatro alla Scala, Milan for the Teatro Verdi of Busseto and the Ravenna Festival 2001. An Apollonian opera, as performed in the historical Busseto staging of 1913 (whose conductor was Toscanini) and revived by a company which will probably make history: the orchestra and chorus of La Scala conducted by Riccardo Muti. All that could be enough. But there was also an exceptional cast of singers-actors: among them the charismatic baritone Juan Pons in the title-role and Daniela Dessì as Alice Ford. Productions of this quality are quite uncommon in an opera-goer's life, something to be remembered. Some bewilderment emerged during the extremely complex concertati where the individual singing lines intertwine, turning the sung text into an exhilarating hubbub - a passage full of refined irony, subtly underlined by Ford's uttering: "se parlaste uno alla volta, forse allor v'intenderò" ("if you will speak one at a time, then I will understand you"). But a serious flaw was hardly to be found in such an ensemble: Bernadette Manca di Nissa was a Quickly in grand style, a mezzo with clear diction and great humour; Roberto Frontali a sympathetic Ford, especially in the 'cuckold' monologue; Anna Caterina Antonacci a convincing Meg. Also worth mentioning: the witty pair Pistola (Luigi Roni) and Bardolfo (Paolo Barbacini); the comically nasty Dr. Cajus (Ernesto Gavazzi); and, last but not least, the young lovers, delightfully performed by Juan Diego Flórez and Inva Mula in a vocally delicate and theatrically appropriate manner (thanks in part to their handsome appearance). Besides that, Flórez offered an absolutely "historic" timbre, maximal care for diction and a caressing filato. And there was the orchestra, masterfully underlying words and gestures with a clear-cut articulation almost without comparison - an achievement ranking Maestro Muti and his Milanese ensemble within the top layer of today's international musical scene. The curtain rose showing the Garter Inn as if it were a drawing from an 18th-century book of fairy tales: a hyper-realistic, pompier-style interior, quite a symphony in phoney Elizabethan timber with the singers strolling around as shabby commedia dell'arte players, occasionally doubled by mime-dancers. The wondrous atmosphere, also conveyed by the flamboyant costumes and the eccentric ladies' coiffures, continued throughout the opera, culminating in the final scenes at Windsor Park. Sir John's majestic headgear visually saturated the stage with irresistibly comical effects, yet created some discomfort on behalf of the poor wretch. Naive identification versus Entfremdung: the burden of an entire century in the history of stage direction rested heavily on those horns. Verdi's FALSTAFF is a paramount exercise in comic style, as finely balanced as one might find in the entire history of opera: even honor and jealousy, causing tragic bloodshed in OTELLO, are now a knowing jest. The composer's mature dramatic and symphonic skills are ironically revisited as well - as is the hero's rampant individualism, for the singers are all engaged in an ensemble play more difficult than any solo aria. But with this exceptional cast it worked almost perfectly, as acknowledged by the audience with standing ovations and demands of encores at each act's end."
- Fulvia De Colle, www.andante.com, August 2001