Music: A Fresh Falstaff in Los Angeles

Giulini conducts the masterpiece of Verdi's old age

In opera, the most enthusiastic acclaim goes to the stars—prima donnas and leading men who troop out from behind the curtain to bask in the bravos. By the time the conductor finally gets his turn, many patrons have already rushed up the aisles to grab a taxi. Last week in Los Angeles, though, the audience reserved its loudest cheers for the maestro: Carlo Maria Giulini, 67, returning to the operatic stage after an absence of 14 years.

Every decibel was earned. The production of Verdi's Falstaff by...

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