Music: Ample Leonard

U.S. opera last week got a new Falstaff—from The Bronx.

The great Giuseppe Verdi's only well-known comic opera, written when he was 80, based on Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor, has long been regarded by many critics as his best. But ever since its first performance in 1893, with the late great Baritone Victor Maurel in the title role, it has tended to be a flop at the box office. The reasons are several. As drama Falstaff is sketchy, gentle, lacking in emotional intensity. As music, Falstaff is a tapestry of lacy subtleties, so...

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