Long-Time Metropolitan Opera Baritone To Star In Verdi's Falstaff
● By Jack Burger
Mr. Malis, the first American to win the prestigious Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, spent twelve seasons at the Metropolitan Opera where his leading roles included Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Marcello and Schaunard in La Bohème, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, and Papageno in Die Zauberflöte. Mr. Malis’ career has taken him across the globe in leading opera roles and recitals as well as behind-the-scenes work in directing, conducting, and teaching. He is currently Director of Opera and Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Arkansas.
On August 15 (7pm) and August 17 (3pm), Mr. Malis leads the ECO’s professional cast of Falstaff in Verdi’s three-act farce. Verdi and librettist Arrigo Boito were big fans of William Shakespeare, and this opera is their interpretation of The Merry Wives of Windsor (with some bits of Henry IV thrown in for good measure.) Falstaff— described in the cast of characters as “the fat knight”—is thwarted throughout the opera in his preposterous attempts to seduce two married women. Far from being just a drunken debaucher, Falstaff’s genial humanity and his true, albeit misplaced, belief in his own heroism shines through Verdi’s score and Boito’s lyrics.
“Falstaff is SO much more than just a greedy letch,” says Mr. Malis. “Shakespeare wrote him into three of his plays, and in Verdi’s opera we find an aging but proud and vain knight; a lover, braggart, con man, thief (with a most individual idea of honor), seducer, friend, gentleman, rogue...with a great wit and a greater appreciation for women.” Mr. Malis first performed the title role as a 25-year-old graduate student at the Cincinnati Conservatory, directed by the great Italian bass Italo Tajo. He also performed the other major baritone role, Ford, in over 80 performances before returning to Falstaff himself in 2001. “I think he is wonderful,” says Mr. Malis, “and the 79-year-old Verdi gave him music that is, along with the opera Otello, perhaps Verdi’s most sublime.”
Falstaff will be performed in English at the Steamboat Springs High School Auditorium on Friday, August 15, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets in a range of prices are available on the ECO web site at www.emeraldcityopera.com/events
The Emerald City Opera is dedicated to promoting vocal arts in Northwest Colorado, including opera educational and musical opportunities in collaboration with world-class artists.