Backstage at the Ohio Theatre with Cleveland Opera for Verdi's Falstaff

Submitted by Kevin Cronin on Wed, 06/17/2009 - 18:20.
Falstaff (Gaetan Laperriere) talks with Dr. Caius (Timothy Culver).    photo by: Eric Mull

It's an interesting experiment, live blogging from the final dress rehearsal of Verdi's opera "Fallstaff.  We've been promised full access - backstage, the house, conversations with staff and actors (as long as they are willing), but for now, The stage manager’s called “places, five minutes”, so I’m going off to the seats. I don’t want to miss anything. 


One thing that’s always impressed me about live theater, is that beneath all the calm exterior of the performance, the apparent flawlessness for the public, lurks the mayhem and chaos of elementary school recess.  The actors are pacing through staging and warming up their voices, fixing costumes, props are coming in and out, the orchestra prepares … and … then the lights come up and it’s the appearance of flawlessness for the public.  The actors are sharp, the voices are strong, the proscenium translations are in sync and I can follow along.   How does it all happen? No one knows.  Extraordinary talent?  Hard work…lots of hard, hard work.

The staff seems to think all went well.  No nicks and bruises, but he director and artistic director still notice small things to address.  And they will address them, that’s why it’s called a rehearsal.  And it’s great not to stop and start, but run all the way through.   Another observation is that they really knew how to throw around insults!  The plot is clear to anyone seeing the Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor (or the Texas version of it).  Fallstaff, a fat, drunken old soldier has figured his way to fame  -- seducing two wealthy women.  However, the two women have figured out what’s up and they have no end of insults for him.  Fallstaff is going to get his due (but that’s the second and third act).The second act moves the story along, with brisk, clever interplay involving Falstaff, first with a messenger from one of his “targets” and then a mysterious gentlemen.   “Gold opens all doors” and Falstaff is happy to help him, particularly as it helps his own goals.  Falstaff departs, as he needs to make himself beautiful as the hour nears… he will woo one within the hour. He returns, fabulously dressed in “rumpled chic,” minus the chic.   The wooing begins, but the women have other ideas…and then her husband arrives….Falstaff’s a hard guy to hide, but he gets his soaking.  “It’s looking good”, says the artistic staff.

The third act was all about ridiculing Falstaff – men, women, heck, even a kid -- at least until Falstaff learned his lessons (c’mon, you knew he would) and they all prepared for a celebration, started undressing, with Falstaff shedding his horns (and more) along the way.  Very clever show … and a great opportunity, to see the behind the scenes wrangling and appreciate both the backstage and on stage professionalism.  C’mon down to the Ohio Theatre, Cleveland, and enjoy the show!


Fantastic real time arts and culture coverage Kevin!!

I love this write-up, Kevin. Nice to have another arts and culture writer in town! Great concept and story that you should continue from show to show, venue to venue!!!

I love Flastaff - here was my write up of the great Orchestra performance in 2006...

This sounds like a great performance - I'll need to check it out.

Disrupt IT