Pacific Opera Project’s ‘Falstaff’ Laugh-Out-Loud, Zany, Artistic Fun
By Courtney Blackburn
“It’s our first time in Glendale and the show is promising to be one of the coolest things we’ve ever done. Opera outdoors—there is something magical about it.” So spake Josh Shaw, Co-Founder of Pacific Opera Project. He was right, and not just because of the innate cool factor of placing your opera in a cemetery—in this case, Museum Plaza at Forest Lawn Glendale.
The reason Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff, as performed by POP, is one of the coolest things they’ve ever done—and we’ve ever seen—is a perfect storm of zany comedy, gut-busting performances, and a great venue.
An opera based on William Shakespeare’s classic comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff revolves around the titular character–also known as “The Fat Knight”–attempting to woo two married women for their husbands’ money, and the sweet, prolonged revenge of the “merry wives.” Zeffin Quinn Hollis was brilliant as Falstaff, from his special-effects gut to his over-the-top mannerisms and deep, round voice. On his massive stomach, he carried a good deal of the humor–literally, for many of the Merry Wives’ jokes revolved around it!
Rebecca Sjowall (Alice Ford), Sharmay Musacchio (Mistress Quickly), and Jessica Mirshak (Meg Page) were lovely, quick-witted, and robust as the Merry Wives, while star-crossed lovers Annie Sherman (Nannetta Ford) and Nadav Hart (Fenton) coaxed giggles and sighs from the audience. Standout Daniel Scofield’s performance was intense in its humor—as the jealous husband–and in its passion, causing the audience to humanize the man they came to laugh at. But he was hilarious when he was angry, hunting all over the stage for his wife’s wooer, Falstaff.
Supertitles projected above the colorful stage kept the audience fully abreast of the Italian developments on the stage. A sliver of crescent moon kept company through the boughs of a giant oak tree on stage right. A delightful breeze and cool night air drowned out the simmering California heat, and statues from the Mausoleum watched right alongside.
For those who think opera consist of four hours of high-pitched, Germanic warbling, POP’s performances will be a shock: a trim two-and-a-half hours packed full of contemporary comedy while keeping true to the original material, proving man—and his sense of humor—hasn’t changed much over the years. So, go laugh it up!
POP’s next opera will be Viva la mamma! Nov. 12-19, 2015. Visit their website at www.pacificoperaproject.com to buy tickets for their upcoming show, or to watch the hilarious video of their Star Trek-themed Abduction from the Seraglio (we loved it!).
Josh Shaw, POP’s Artistic Director, kindly shared the entire film of Falstaff!
Their next production will be Viva la mamma! Get your tickets here.
Plus a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Nov. 14.
Table for four $120; Table for two $65;
General Admission $20