978-0-306-70868-8 / 030670868X

Shakespeare and Music (Da Capo Press music reprint series)

by Wilson, Christopher

Publisher:Da Capo Pr



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Excerpt: ...Ford the fine song about his youth, "Once I was page to the Duke of Norfolk." Though Verdi does not use the leit-motif in the ordinary sense of the word, much use is made of a triplet figure. Mistress Quickly employs it first to announce to Sir John his appointment with Mistress Ford. It is used by Sir John when he announces to Ford, disguised as Brook, his appointment with Ford's wife. Unfortunately, the original Italian cannot be, or has not been, rendered into the same number of syllables in the English version (I am speaking of Ricordi's edition), so there is one syllable missing, which spoils the whole effect. This figure is used wonderfully as an accompaniment during the duet that follows, and the eighty-year-old composer gets heaps of natural boyish fun (though technically marvellous) out of those six notes. The first part of the third act opens with, for Verdi, quite a long introduction, agitato in nature, on the theme that interrupts Falstaff's love-making in the previous act. The scene is the exterior of the Garter Inn. Falstaff is alone, and sings his famous soliloquy on the wicked, treacherous world. He calls for wine, drinks deeply, and begins to feel better. He mixes the sack with the Thames water he has swallowed, and sings, "How sweet it is to drink good wine while basking in the sunshine." Mistress Quickly comes on, and makes the appointment for Herne's oak at midnight. She begins the story of Herne the Hunter very impressively, and Mistress Page finishes it. The next and last scene takes place a little before midnight, at the oak in Windsor Park. Anne Page and Fenton open with a love-duet, and as the bell strikes twelve Sir John enters wearing a pair of antlers. After a short scene with Mistress Page, Anne Page is heard as Fairy Queen summoning her wood nymphs, dryads, and goblins. Falstaff falls on his face, and the fairies enter. There is a long and beautiful sort of choral ballet, in which Falstaff is badly treated by everyone,...

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