On April 21, 23 and 26, 2016, Riccardo Muti’s April CSO residency concluded with concert performances of Verdi’s final opera Falstaff, including one performance that occurs on April 23, Shakespeare’s birthday and the day of his death in 1616. Written when Verdi was nearly 80, Falstaff is recognized as one of the composer’s greatest achievements and can be viewed as autobiographical. These performances of Falstaff mark the culmination of Muti’s traversal of Verdi’s Shakespeare operas with the Orchestra and Chorus, which also included Otello in 2011 and Macbeth in 2013. The program features an internationally celebrated cast of opera soloists including today’s leading Falstaff – baritone Ambrogio Maestri, who makes his CSO debut in these performances. Laura Polverelli, Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani and Saverio Fiore also make their CSO debuts with Daniela Barcellona and Luca Dall’Amico making their subscription debuts. Baritone Luca Salsi, who appeared with Muti to critical acclaim in the CSO’s performances of Macbeth, returns as Ford in this production. Sopranos Eleonora Buratto and Rosa Feola, as well as tenor Saimir Pirgu mark return appearances in Falstaff. The Chicago Symphony Chorus is prepared by chorus director Duain Wolfe.
Founded by Theodore Thomas in 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Since 2010, the preeminent conductor Riccardo Muti has served as its 10th music director. Yo-Yo Ma is the CSO’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant, and Samuel Adams and Elizabeth Ogonek are its Mead Composers-in-Residence.
This program is a part of the American Opera Series, a series designed to complement the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts to fill out the year with great Opera content. The series begins in May and lasts until November (exact dates are published in the first quarter of the year).