Garsington Opera at Wormsley is shown at the very top of its game in a sensational new production of Verdi’s Falstaff that sounds wonderful, looks brilliant and provides perfect entertainment for a lovely summer evening.

A warm glow of nostalgia suffuses the work in which the composer, in his 80th year, was bidding farewell to his craft – in markedly atypical fashion – even as his roistering hero is seen about his final amorous adventures.

Its whimsical tone fits neatly with the Garsington style, which is certainly not the case with the bulk of Verdi’s oeuvre, which is presumably why none save this opera has been given by the company, the last time 20 years ago.

In a significant coup, Garsington has the services of a world-class conductor in Richard Farnes, in charge of The Philharmonia Orchestra on top form.

Rarely can Falstaff’s rich orchestral textures, musical motifs and tricksy ensembles have been better heard, building towards the glorious fugue with which the opera concludes, and with it Verdi’s stage career.

Director Bruno Ravella and designer Giles Cadle transport us to the Windsor of the Edwardian era, a move especially effective in Act II with a railway station complete with puffing locomotive.

Into the town strides Sir John Falstaff with his entourage, he something of a cock o’ the north in his vast tartan trews later swapped for outsize kilt as he sets off a-wooing.

In a powerful performance, Henry Waddington proves less unsavoury than is usual with the role; indeed, one feels almost sorry for him after the Thames ducking by his female tormentors.

These, too, are excellently presented, with Yvonne Howard especially effective as Mistress Quickly, the go-between in the guilling of Falstaff.

Mary Dunleavy shows a good measure of wounded dignity, not to say malice, as Mistress Ford, recipient of the fat knight’s lascivious embraces, and Richard Burkhard is hilarious as her jealous husband.

Daughter Meg (Victoria Simmonds) and her swain Fenton (Oliver Johnston) excel in their brief love duets, the most typically Verdian music we hear.

Till July 22. 01865 361636 5/5