Home > Falstaff
|Composed 1889-1890; revised 1893 and 1894.
First performed February 9, 1893.
Libretto by Arrigo Boito (in Itarian),
During the reign of Henry IV (1399-1413), in the middle of England,
Windsor, a fat elderly knight, Sir John Falstaff, drinks alcohol at the Garter
Inn. But he does not have any money, so he wrote love letters to two rich
married women, Alice and Meg. Alice and Meg know that both of them were given
the same letter from Falstaff, and they both get very angry. In addition,
Alice’s husband, Ford, also knows about Falstaff’s letter, and he gets angry,
When Ford is away from home, Alice invites Falstaff to her home.
According to her plan, Meg suddenly appears to surprise him. But, Meg informs
Alice that Ford is coming home soon.
Falstaff is surprised! Alice advises him that he should hide himself in
the large laundry basket. When Falstaff hides himself in it, Alice orders
her servants to throw the laundry basket out the window into the river.
The women and Ford are satisfied when they see Falstaff soaking wet.
There is another problem. Ford wants his daughter, Nannetta, to marry
a doctor, Caius. But, Nannetta has a lover, Fenton.
Alice and Meg invite Falstaff to Windsor Great Park at midnight.
Falstaff is pleased and goes there. But, he is surrounded by villagers
disguised as fairies. Falstaff believes that any person who sees fairies is
dead. When he lies himself down on the ground, all the people poke him to
And then, according to Ford’s plan, he attempts to announce to the
villagers about the marriage of Nannetta to Dr. Caius. But, Alice, that is
Nannetta’s mother, interrupts his plan, and Nannetta can announce to everyone
that she will marry her lover, Fenton. Ford also reluctantly accepts this.
Falstaff says, “Tutto nel mondo e burla (Everything in the world is a
joke)” and everyone starts laughing.
|This opera, “Falstaff” is Giuseppe Verdi’s last opera. When he was 79
years old, the world premiere of this opera was held in Milano. When he
was young, he continued to compose his operas for 10 hours a day. But,
he composed “Falstaff” for 2 hours every day. Verdi said that he composed
this opera for his enjoyment. This opera was completed as an outstanding
comedy. Before that, Verdi composed a lot of tragedies. Due to the success
of this opera, “Falstaff,” he could leave a totally different impression
in people around the world.
Verdi likes the character of Falstaff best. He hung a
picture of Falstaff on the wall in his room. Arrigo Boito who is the
scriptwriter of Verdi’s previous work, “Otello,” recommended Verdi to compose
this opera based on Shakespeare’s drama, “Henry IV” and “The Merry Wives of
Windsor.” Both Verdi and Falstaff were old. I think that after Verdi finished
composing his last opera said, “Everything in the world is a joke,” just like Falstaff.
I heard Verdi began to compose this opera from the part of Fuga in the
final act. One of the distinctive features of this opera is the precise
At that time, Wagner’s opera had great influence on opera composers all
over the world. Though Verdi didn’t recognise Wagner’s opera, he changed
his viewpoint of Wagner’s opera in his later years. But, Verdi was never
influenced by Wagner. Verdi accumulated his original opera composition
techniques. Verdi’s opera had significant influence on Italian operas.
“Falstaff” is an Italian heritage.
|Gluck, C. W. (1714-1787)
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