Serious fun: Ambrogo Maestri star of the Met's new Falstaff

At the age of forty-three, Ambrogio Maestri, star of the Met\'s new Falstaff, has become the opera world\'s Sir John of choice. The ebullient Italian baritone, marks his 200th career performance as Verdi's fat knight this month. Aftter two glasses of wine, all Italians sing,\" insists Ambrogio Maestri — a statement of Falstaffian philosophy with an appropriately Mediterranean spin. Having romped triumphantly as Falstaff on most of the world\'s major opera stages, Maestri is today widely acknowledged to be the role\'s reigning master, a baritone of burnished brawn, who blends buffa broadness with a searing dramatic naturalness. His characterization of Verdi\'s quintessential Shakespearean comic character is at last coming to the Metropolitan Opera this month in a new Robert Carsen production coproduced with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (where Maestri sang it in May 2012); Teatro alla Scala, Milan; Canadian Opera Company, Toronto; and De Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam. It will be conducted by James Levine and directed by Carsen.