Todd Thomas, returning to Opera North, did an amazing job of characterizing and singing the role of Falstaff. He made of the aging Lothario just that: seemingly honest about himself, but unaware that even when he was not going courting in a pink brocaded satin suit, he was still a self-burlesque. Yet, at each and every setback, he bounced back. Dangle a bag of gold in front of him or the prospect of laffaire du coeur, and all his past experiential self-realism disappears. He sets himself up again for laughter and buffoonery. It was a highly nuanced performance both vocally and histrionically in a role that demands a great deal, especially since he scarcely has an aria in the understood sense of something that could be excerpted, that stands totally alone. His was a masterful piece of vocal acting.
I had a second chance this summer see here the young Montr顬 baritone Jonathan Carle -- he was in the Green Mountain Opera Festival production of Madama Butterfly as Sharpless. He proved to be an exemplary singer, not only in the ensembles, but in providing a gorgeously sung Ford's Monologue, despite the fact that it raged with jealousy and ached at the thought that his wife was unfaithful to him. His sense of line allowed him to frequent these emotions without damaging the chant li頯r bel canto that seems inherently a part of his vocal mechanism. It was an extremely impressive performance.
Mistress Quickly was brought to life adeptly by Sondra Kelly, an experienced mezzo-soprano, and she acted and sang the role with consummate skill. Alan Pinkney, who had made much of the little role of the Emperor in Turandot, proved adept as Dr. Caius, and joined his acting and vocal talent with the entire cast to make this a memorable performance. Meredith Ziegler was Meg Page, Nathaniel Peake and Tae Suk Suh engaging in their roles of Bardolph and Pistol. Maria D'Amato and Jason Karn scored heavily as the lovers, Nanetta and Fenton.