While opera tends to be stereotyped as grandiose melodrama replete with eloquent scores and impassioned arias, such a sweeping generalization overlooks the vast array of work that actually succeeds in opposition to such easy categorizations. Take, for example, Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff. The illustrious Italian composer was nearly 80 years old when he completed the comic opera, capping off his storied career with a light-hearted romp that contrasts sharply with his loftier works. But though the work is decidedly buoyant, there's nothing lackluster about Verdi's energetic re-imagining of Shakespeare's eminently disreputable Sir John Falstaff as he schemes to seduce a fortune from two wealthy married women. Matched with an inspired libretto by Arrigo Boito, who cleverly interwove elements from Henry IV, Parts I and II into a storyline adapted from The Merry Wives of Windsor, Verdi's composition is a triumph of robust melodies and dynamic vocal arrangements. As such, Falstaff should provide an impressive showcase for the student performers undertaking the work for the University of Minnesota Opera Theatre's fall performance. Trading stately experience for unbound creativity, the invigorating ambition of the production looks to justify the singular spirit of Verdi's unlikely masterpiece of mirth.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1:30 p.m. Starts: Nov. 15. Continues through Nov. 18, 2012