Out of Giuseppe Verdi's adoration for William Shakespeare three masterpieces were born: MacBeth, Otello and, as a musical testament, his only comedy Falstaff. But in accordance with it's librettist Arrigo Boito's wish to remove the original bourgeois farce The Merry Wives of Windsor out of the English mists and to warm it up to the clear Tuscan sun, Falstaff transforms Shakespeare's morality play into an ode to life, to pleasure and to reconciliation that forgives human vices, rewards intelligence and virtue, and praises that spark of madness that gives life it's flavor. Shakespeare's most famous and subversive comic character has indeed proved to be a fertile ground for Verdi who, then eighty-years old, signed with Falstaff his most modern, most ambitious, but also wisest and ambiguous opera. It was high time that French stage director Laurent Pelly, an eminent specialist of the buffa repertoire, tried out his talents on this whimsical music drama : a task he performs with absolute maestria, highlighting with remarkable subtlety the numerous comic devices invented by Verdi and Boito but also pondering on the equivocal morality of the argument. He is, of course, helped in this endeavor by a wonderful team of singers: from the excellent baritone Roberto de Candia to the earthy mezzo soprano Daniela Barcellona as Mrs. Quickly, without forgetting the exceptional Simone Piazzolla as Ford, the wonderfully lyrical Rebecca Evans as Alice, or the candid Ruth Iniesta and Joel Prieto as Nannetta and Fenton, the young couple whose tender romance counterpoint Falstaff's heroicomic gest. At the head of the Orchestra of the Teatro Real, conductor Daniele Rustioni underlines with unusual clarity and finesse the extraordinary complexity of this 'opus ultimum'.