The theater had the sound up too high. The level should be similar to what one hears in the house. When I attend a Metropolitan Opera performance, it is not painfully loud. A good way to gauge the sound level is to listen to the applause.

At the theater I attended, the Regal Stadium 16 in Natomas Marketplace, Sacramento, CA, the audience was sparse. Could e excessive sound levels be keeping attendance down?

I blame the theater for its ignorance here. The performance was exceptional. Ambrogio Maestri was the perfect Falstaff, and I'm sure it was he who inspired Robert Carson to create this wonderful production. I also thought the "Merry Wives," especially Stephanie Blythe and Angela Meade (who I saw in many performances at the Academy of Vocal Arts) deserve special praise. Act III was really wonderful!