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Verdi's last opera (and only his second comedy) is one of the glories of the repertoire and one of history's finest operatic adaptations of Shakespearean material. It has fared well in video recordings, and this sparkling production ranks with the best.
It is very much an ensemble performance, which is what the music needs and conductor Carlo Maria Giulini demands. But there are excellent individual performances, singing and acting. Renato Bruson fits smoothly into the title role of an aging, corpulent adventurer who tries to seduce two women simultaneously with the same love note. Lucia Valentini-Terrani is funny as the wily Mistress Quickly, Katia Ricciareli is sweet in voice and temperament as Alice Ford, Leo Nucci is her distraught husband. Barbara Hendricks and Dalmacio Gonzales are an appealing couple as the young lovers Nanetta and Fenton.
The sets and costumes create a proper Elizabethan atmosphere, and Giulini's conducting has a fine balance of lightness and discipline. --Joe McLellan
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