Harrow Opera presents Verdi's comic masterpiece 'Falstaff'

First published in What's On by

Harrow Opera presents Verdi’s final opera, the comic masterpiece Falstaff, fully staged with orchestra and a new English translation by its very own musical director, the internationally acclaimed tenor Ian Caley.

Based on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV, Falstaff tells the story of Sir John who, short of cash for his beloved food and wine, decides to woo two wealthy women for their husbands' money. When the women receive identical love letters, they resolve to teach their would-be suitor a lesson.

Bushey soprano Julie Gray plays the part of Alice Ford, "the most mischievous wife of Windsor! I love Falstaff," she says, "because, whereas quite often in opera everybody dies and it’s all sadness, this one is a comedy, it ends with everybody laughing and the women get one over on the men, which is always good!"

Ian Caley’s is a very modern translation, unlike others which, Julie says, tend to be rather archaic. "It’s quite often performed in Italian, so this is very accessible. We do tend to perform in English, we like audiences to be able to understand what’s going on."

As well as being a member of Harrow Opera, Julie also does solo work, sings with Harrow Philharmonic Choir and the Potters Bar Choral Society, and runs a private teaching practice in Bushey, The Singing School.

All this singing over 20 years seems to have rubbed off on her seven-year-old son, James. He is one of several local youngsters starring as elves and fairies in the big scene in the woods with Sir John. Julie laughs: "He absolutely loves it because he gets to sit on Falstaff’s back and beat him up!"

Falstaff is at Compass Theatre, Glebe Avenue, Ickenham from March 7-10 at 7.30pm. Details: 01895 673200, www.compasstheatre.co.uk.

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