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Stéphane Degout © Julien Benhamou

Verdi Falstaff

From 09 October TO 23 October 2021
Opéra - Lyon

Verdi : Falstaff

  • Conductor
    Daniele Rustioni
  • Director
    Barrie Kosky
  • Performers
    Sir John Falstaff: Christopher Purves
    Alice Ford: Carmen Giannattasio
    Ford: Stéphane Degout
    Mrs Quickly: Daniela Barcellona
    Nannetta: Giulia Semenzato
    Fenton: Juan Francisco Gatell
    Meg Page: Antoinette Dennefeld
  • Venue Info
  • Seating Plan
  • Synopsis

Opéra - Lyon Location 1 Place de la Comédie - 69001 Lyon France

  • Venue's Capacity: 1200

The city of Lyon has a long lyrical past, for, as early as 1697, the town obtained the authorisation (a then highly sought-after privilege) to open a Royal Academy of Music. Lyon's first permanent opera was built in 1756; the theatre was later razed, while its foundations served as the basis for a new theatre, opened in 1831. During this long history, the Lyon Opera forged, little by little, a solid reputation of proposing an innovative repertoire. This reputation was quite justified, and the Opera became known as the " cradle of French Wagnerianism," for it was here that the MEISTERSINGER, in 1896, and the RING, in 1904, were premiered in France. The Wagnerian tradition lasted until the Second World War, alongside an ever-increasing place reserved for contemporary works (Schoenberg and Henze were billed in 1967).


But it was mainly as of Louis Erlo's arrival at the head of the institution in 1969 that the house established a firm reputation as one of France's most dynamic theatres in the domain of lyrical creation. Besides the French premiere of Richard Strauss' DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU, the stage proposed the French premiere of works composed by, amongst others, Nono, Berio, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann, whose DIE SOLDATEN was performed here in 1983. This same year, the Lyon Opera became equipped with a permanent orchestra, with John Eliot Gardiner as its music director. Gardiner's wide ranging repertoire, and especially his sound knowledge of the baroque sensitivity, together with the affinity of his successor, Kent Nagano (appointed in 1988), for twentieth century music, have secured the orchestra's ability to readily adapt to the most diverse works.


In 1993, the new Lyon Opera was inaugurated, entirely redesigned by the architect Jean Nouvel. While the building underwent renovation, the company took advantage of the six seasons spent outside of its theatre to perform in different places, reaching out to a new audience. The new building, designed to incorporate a large glass wall into the existing walls of the old theatre, is symbolic of the Lyon Opera's past: a perfect union of audacity and tradition. The inaugural evening therefore included both a revival of Lully's PHAETON, that had opened the first season during the seventeenth century, and the premiere of Debussy's little-known unfinished opera RODRIGUE ET CHIMENE. Thanks to a reputation strengthened by continuing success, as well as a by the policy of maintaining a prestigious training programme for young singers and by the production of dynamic audiovisual projects, the Lyon Opera was, in 1996, the first Institution outside of Paris to receive the status of "National Opera by the French authorities.


The seating plan is given as an indication and has no contractual value.
The division of categories may differ depending on shows and dates.




Giuseppe Verdi's comedic operatic work is amongst one of the great composer's best loved works. Based in part around the Shakespeare plays of The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV, the opera is now recognised as something of a classic. After an initial reluctance from theatre goers to warm to the themes and melodies found within, the opera has received praise and respect since the 1930s onwards. The many studio recordings and live performances based around the world have brought it to the attention of opera lovers everywhere. 


Verdi's comedic opera is set in Windsor, England at the end of the 14th Century. It is largely concerned with the humorous consequences of the arrogance and bluster of the central character as he attempts to seduce two married ladies. The hilarious twists in the plot can act as a symbol for the ongoing confusion in human nature and the timeless class struggles and problems of identity that remain consistent and relevant today. 

Act 1 

The first act details Falstaff's attempts to woe the married Alice Ford and Meg Page with letters of love. He attempts to enlist the help of his friends Bardolfo and Pistola to deliver the letters. The men refuse, but the letters still manage to find their way to the ladies in question. The situational comedy of such action provides the ideal starting point for the opera. 

Act 2 

The misunderstandings and dramatic comedy are intensified in the second act as Alice Ford's husband becomes embroiled in the story. He hatches a plan with Bardolfo and Pistola to discredit their former friend by conspiring to make him look ridiculous in his pursuit of Alice. However, Ford is himself taken in by the emotional confusion of love and is soon sick with anger at Falstaff's desire for his wife. 

Act 3 

The culmination of the amusing cross purposes and miscommunication arrives once Ford realises his error in judgement in suspecting his wife of an affair. In working out the perfect punishment for the fat foolish knight, the crux of the opera is wonderfully delivered. Dealing with a light touch the essential motivations and romantic impulses of human relationships, Verdi is able to bring a timeless story of passion, crossed wires and tomfoolery to the world stage. Leaving the audience with a sense of happy goodwill in the face of the perplexities of life, the opera can be counted on to raise the spirits. 


Sir John Falstaff, a fat arrogant knight, baritone
Ford, a rich man, baritone
Alice Ford, his wife, soprano
Nannetta, their daughter, soprano
Meg Page, a wealthy married woman, mezzo-soprano
Fenton, one of Nannetta's suitors, tenor

Opéra de Lyon © Franchella Stofleth

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