Ford, Alice

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(Verdi: Falstaff). Sop. Wife of Ford and mother of Nannetta. She promises to help her daughter, whom Ford wants to marry off to the elderly Dr Caius, while Nannetta wants to marry the man she loves, young Fenton. Falstaff plans to seduce Alice as a way of acquiring some of her husband's money. She enlists the help of Mistress Quickly and Meg Page, and they set about teaching Falstaff a lesson. Ford, told of Falstaff's intentions, is worried his wife might actually be unfaithful. Alice arranges for Falstaff to visit her ‘between two and three’ when her husband is out. Meg pretends to hear Ford approaching and they hide Falstaff behind a screen. Mistress Quickly announces that Ford really is here. Falstaff is hastily bundled into a laundry‐basket, Nannetta and Fenton taking his place. Ford hears the sound of kissing coming from behind the screen, pulls it down and reveals his daughter and her sweetheart. So where is Falstaff? Alice leads him to the window, through which the laundry‐basket has been tipped, and there is the Fat Knight, soaking wet, struggling to climb out of the river below. Alice makes a further arrangement with Falstaff—they will meet in Windsor Park at midnight. Everyone dons masks and costumes and Falstaff is teased and tormented by all present, until he finally understands that it was all a joke and takes it in good part. Aria (with the other ladies): Gaie comari di Windsor! è l'ora! (‘Merry Wives of Windsor! it is the hour!’); Avrò con me del putti (‘I will have with me little elves’). In recent years, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Giulietta Simionato, and Regina Resnik have been famous Alice Fords. Created (1893) by Emma Zilli.

Subjects: Opera.

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