View Poll Results: Which do you prefer?

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  • Meistersinger

    46 65.71%
  • Falstaff

    24 34.29%
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Thread: Meistersinger vs Falstaff

  1. #31
    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    ...whereas Falstaff is almost the only Verdi I will listen to. (I say almost as occasionally I have been known to listen to Otello & Macbeth.)

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  3. #32
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    And it ends without any pomposity at all:
    'Everyone is born to laugh at everyone else
    But he who laughs last laughs longest.'
    That sounds good-natured, but it doesn't quite capture the flavor of the original. The full text of the final fugue, (roughly) correctly translated:


    Tutto nel mondo é burla.
    L'uom é nato burlone,
    Nel suo cervello ciurla
    Sempre la sua ragione.
    Tutti gabbati! Irride
    L'un l'altro ogni mortal.
    Ma ride ben chi ride
    La risata final.

    The whole world is a joke,
    And man is born a clown.
    Inside his brain his reason is always [Italian "ciurla," which I can't find a translation for].
    We are all fools! Each mortal mocks the other.
    But he laughs best who gets the last laugh.


    For some reason I've never found that particularly heart-warming. Surely even comedy can leave us with something more than amused cynicism? Is shared foolishness and one-upmanship ("he who laughs last") mankind's deepest bond? It sounds like the code of a con artist, and it tends to confirm my feeling that Falstaff, for all its brilliance, is basically rather shallow.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jun-20-2019 at 08:00.

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  5. #33
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    I even have Karajan's DG Falstaff on the shelve, time to give it a spin
    Not as good as the first but still very fine. But Falstaff has been very very lucky on disc. Have you tried Bernstein?
    Last edited by DavidA; Jun-20-2019 at 08:07.

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  7. #34
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    Falstaff is a fun watch, but I never feel particularly inclined to listen to just the audio, whereas Meistersinger contains some of the most beautiful music Wagner ever composed. To me, the very best of Verdi has a strong claim against the weaker Wagner operas but I don't consider Falstaff anywhere close to the very best of Verdi.
    Isn't it funny how tastes differ imm that I consider the music of Falstaff to be the finest Verdi ever wrote with the composer absolutely at the height of his powers. The sheer wonder of how he matches the score with the libretto and makes the music speak is a marvel. As for Mastersingers it does, as you say, contain some beautiful music, such as the quintet, but frankly is over long and out-stays its welcome in places, whereas not a note of Falstaff is wasted.

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  9. #35
    Senior Member Dr. Shatterhand's Avatar
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    Neither. The correct answer is, of course, Benvenuto Cellini!

    I've seen and heard Falstaff a few times; it leaves me rather cold. It doesn't have the tunes of mature (Ballo+) Verdi. I much prefer Nicolai's Lustigen Weiber von Windsor, with its dancing ensembles, bass arias, and the Mondchor.


    Meistersinger has some lovely things, like the quintet (obligatory mention) and the prize song; it's the most human and grounded of the post-Dutchman operas, but I find it rather long, and the Beckmesser sub-plot isn't at all funny. For my money, Wagner's best comic opera is Das Liebesverbot, full of bel canto and rhythmic élan, starting with the exhilarating, galloping, percussion-heavy overture, in the style of Herold or Auber.

    If I want great 19th century comic opera, I'll listen to La dame blanche; Straszny dwór; Zar und Zimmermann; Le cheval de bronze and Fra Diavolo; the Barber, Cenerentola, Matilde di Shabran, and Comte Ory; and to G&S.

    And to Offenbach (most enjoyable of the numerous Bachs) - born 200 years ago today.

  10. #36
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    I even have Karajan's DG Falstaff on the shelve, time to give it a spin
    Karajan’s second Falsfaff was on Decca not DG, but the EMI (now Warner) is the one to go for. One of the greatest opera recordings of all time.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  12. #37
    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Isn't it funny how tastes differ imm that I consider the music of Falstaff to be the finest Verdi ever wrote with the composer absolutely at the height of his powers. The sheer wonder of how he matches the score with the libretto and makes the music speak is a marvel. As for Mastersingers it does, as you say, contain some beautiful music, such as the quintet, but frankly is over long and out-stays its welcome in places, whereas not a note of Falstaff is wasted.
    I happen to have not the best recording (Karajan II) but listening to it now and looking at the words, I must agree with you. about the musical effectiveness and sheer fun that's in there, even if Karajan's 2nd take is more serious than you would want.

    Within the oeuvre of both Wagner and Verdi, these two represent the light stories. However, give me one truly light and humorous German piece of art, I couldn't think of one. Where Italians are masters of the genre. And living in Venice, as Wagner did, doesn't give you an Italian soul.

    To me, the Meistersinger still produces more beautiful but long-winded music, already from the Ouverture, but it is incomparable to the sheer energy and fun of Falstaff. The welcoming sense of perspective is a delight, as Verdi clearly did love the fun of the story and yet produced great music with it. Supposedly, Verdi said that after having killed so many heroes, he now wanted to enjoy a story.

    Here (if the links works), a great video of Falstaff with the RCO/Gatti, who himself proved to be too much of an Italian soul for the serious Dutch. This video frankly makes me laugh from the very first scene and it proves that music and story go hand in hand.
    https://www.concertgebouworkest.nl/nl/verdi-falstaff

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  14. #38
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    Karajan’s second Falsfaff was on Decca not DG, but the EMI (now Warner) is the one to go for. One of the greatest opera recordings of all time.
    Karajan 2 was originally put out by Philiips on 3 LPs but EMI trumped it by reissuing his earlier one on two LPs. Now Phillips has been submerged like Decca and DG so it could appear on either. It is actually on Decca atm. The EMI is the one to go for but the later one is still a distinguished account of the score. Certainly in his earlier opera sets Karajan and Legge (and Culshaw) set an impossible standard that not even he could beat later.

  15. #39
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    I happen to have not the best recording (Karajan II) but listening to it now and looking at the words, I must agree with you. about the musical effectiveness and sheer fun that's in there, even if Karajan's 2nd take is more serious than you would want.

    Within the oeuvre of both Wagner and Verdi, these two represent the light stories. However, give me one truly light and humorous German piece of art, I couldn't think of one. Where Italians are masters of the genre. And living in Venice, as Wagner did, doesn't give you an Italian soul.

    To me, the Meistersinger still produces more beautiful but long-winded music, already from the Ouverture, but it is incomparable to the sheer energy and fun of Falstaff. The welcoming sense of perspective is a delight, as Verdi clearly did love the fun of the story and yet produced great music with it. Supposedly, Verdi said that after having killed so many heroes, he now wanted to enjoy a story.

    Here (if the links works), a great video of Falstaff with the RCO/Gatti, who himself proved to be too much of an Italian soul for the serious Dutch. This video frankly makes me laugh from the very first scene and it proves that music and story go hand in hand.
    https://www.concertgebouworkest.nl/nl/verdi-falstaff
    Saw this from Met and have it on DVD though different cast. What a joy! Thanks!
    Last edited by DavidA; Jun-20-2019 at 10:22.

  16. #40
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Karajan 2 was originally put out by Philiips on 3 LPs but EMI trumped it by reissuing his earlier one on two LPs. Now Phillips has been submerged like Decca and DG so it could appear on either. It is actually on Decca atm. The EMI is the one to go for but the later one is still a distinguished account of the score. Certainly in his earlier opera sets Karajan and Legge (and Culshaw) set an impossible standard that not even he could beat later.
    Yes indeed. My memory was faulty. I remember now that it was originally on Philips, not Decca. I must have been confused by the later Decca release.

    Incidentally, I don’t think any of Karajan’s second recordings of operas improve on the first, not even Madama Butterly, except in matters of sound of course. The only one I do like better is the EMI Aida. I find the first Decca one a bit too self-consciously beautiful and less characterful, though it has the more traditional Aida cast.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Jun-20-2019 at 10:47.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  17. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    That sounds good-natured, but it doesn't quite capture the flavor of the original. The full text of the final fugue, (roughly) correctly translated:


    Tutto nel mondo é burla.
    L'uom é nato burlone,
    Nel suo cervello ciurla
    Sempre la sua ragione.
    Tutti gabbati! Irride
    L'un l'altro ogni mortal.
    Ma ride ben chi ride
    La risata final.

    The whole world is a joke,
    And man is born a clown.
    Inside his brain his reason is always [Italian "ciurla," which I can't find a translation for].
    We are all fools! Each mortal mocks the other.
    But he laughs best who gets the last laugh.


    For some reason I've never found that particularly heart-warming. Surely even comedy can leave us with something more than amused cynicism? Is shared foolishness and one-upmanship ("he who laughs last") mankind's deepest bond? It sounds like the code of a con artist, and it tends to confirm my feeling that Falstaff, for all its brilliance, is basically rather shallow.
    A few notes about your translation:

    Ciurla is the third person singular of the verb ciurlare which means to move round in circles or move whilst swaying from side to side (think of a drunk 'ciurlaring' their way home!)

    I don't think 'joke' is an adequate translation of burla, burla can also have an element of the con or trick about it (think of Zerlina's words about Don Giovanni Ma puo' burlarmi ancor) and perhaps 'mock' is the best word in English (meaning make fun of, but also false).

    Tutti gabbati! Doesn't mean 'We are all fools!', but 'All taken in'.

    I agree that it is incredibly cynical and, in the original Italian, hard hitting. I would translate it thus:

    Everything in the world is mockery.
    Man is born a joker,
    Inside his brain his reason is always spinning.
    All taken in! Each mortal mocks the other.
    But he laughs best who gets the last laugh.

    In the current political climate I find these words to be a stark warning, but nothing lasts forever, trickery has to catch up with reality at some point and the Truth will laugh best!

    N.

    P.S. I have a very dark sense of humour and so I strongly appreciate this sardonically cynical view.
    Last edited by The Conte; Jun-20-2019 at 11:46.

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  19. #42
    Senior Member WildThing's Avatar
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    I voted for Meistersinger -- I simply find it more soul-stirring and affecting. I've actually been brought to tears by it more than once. And I'm always struck by how much is going on beneath the surface with symbolism, word play and allegory. Each listen brings new revelations.
    Last edited by WildThing; Jun-20-2019 at 15:22.

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  21. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    In the current political climate I find these words to be a stark warning, but nothing lasts forever, trickery has to catch up with reality at some point and the Truth will laugh best!
    Huh. An interesting interpretation, but not at all how the words come across to me. There's no indication that reality comes into play at all or that "truth" will laugh last or laugh best. They sound like words that a Donald Trump might sing approvingly.
    Last edited by ManateeFL; Jun-20-2019 at 14:05.

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  23. #44
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    I was lucky enough to be at Bryn Terfel's (Welsh) debut as Falstaff and, later, his (world) debut as Sachs, both of which were magnificent productions. Although Terfel's by no means the very greatest exponent of either role, albeit he's excellent by most standards, in person he sparkles in them both.

    Two wonderful operas, but Meistersinger is my favourite.

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  25. #45
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca View Post
    ...whereas Falstaff is almost the only Verdi I will listen to. (I say almost as occasionally I have been known to listen to Otello & Macbeth.)
    … how is this a "whereas" situation? The question posed is what our personal opinion is, your opinion being different from mine in no way contradicts that I have the opinion I have.

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