Verdi: Falstaff (scenes)
Edward Downes
Catalogue No.

One of the hidden gems of the Decca catalogue is this 1963 recording of nearly an hour of highlights from Verdi’s ‘Falstaff’ conducted by Sir Edward Downes with a model cast of soloists, including Fernando Corena as the Knight and Regina Resnik in one of her signature roles, Alice Ford. What makes the recording even more remarkable is the quality of the Decca sound – certainly one of the most vibrant, thrilling and impactful examples of analogue audio engineering. The reissue is filled out with rare recordings of Rossini and Donizetti bass arias made by Fernando Corena in 1950 and 1952. They require all of Corena’s sense of character and vocal dexterity and he delivers admirably.


Falstaff (scenes)

Falstaff: Fernando Corena
Ford: Renato Capechi
Alice Ford: Ilva Ligabue
Nanetta: Lydia Marimpietri
Meg Page: Fernanda Cadoni
Mistress Quickly: Regina Resnik
Fenton: Luigi Alva
Bardolph: Robert Bowman
Pistol: Michael Langdon
New Symphony Orchestra of London
Edward Downes

Il barbiere di Siviglia: A un dottor della mia sorte
La gazza ladra: Il mio pianto è preparato

L’elisir d’amore: Udite, udite, o rustici
Don Pasquale: Ah! Un foco insolito

Fernando Corena, bass
L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Alberto Erede

Recording information

Recording Producers: Christopher Raeburn (Falstaff); unknown (Il barbiere di Siviglia); Victor Olof (La gazza ladra, L’elisir d’amore, Don Pasquale)
Balance Engineers: Arthur Lilley (Falstaff); unknown (Il barbiere di Siviglia, La gazza ladra, L’elisir d’amore, Don Pasquale)
Recording Locations: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland, October 1950 (Il barbiere di Siviglia), October 1952 (La gazza ladra, L’elisir d’amore, Don Pasquale); Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, June & July 1963 (Falstaff)
Remastering Engineer: Ben Wiseman (Audio Archiving Company)


‘Corena is an admirable Falstaff, vocally and dramatically, and he misses little or nothing of Verdi’s superb musical characterisation of the part. Capecchi is equally good as Ford … Lydia Marimpietri is a sweet-voiced Nannetta: she makes a beautifully-managed ascent to the final high A of her song. I greatly admired Regina Resnik’s unctuous low notes in her scene with Falstaff [and] Ilva Ligabue’s lovely singing as Alice made me long to hear more of her … Edward Downes gets spirited playing out of the New Symphony Orchestra and one feels that everyone enjoyed themselves at the recording sessions.’ (Falstaff) Gramophone