Verdi's Falstaff

The Masterpiece

Falstaff is an operatic commedia lirica in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi, adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare’s plays The Merry Wives of Windsorand scenes from Henry IV. It was Verdi’s last opera, written in the composer’s ninth decade, and only the second of his 28 operas to be a comedy. It was also the third of Verdi’s operas to be based on a Shakespearean play, following his earlier Macbeth and Otello. While it might have not proved to be as popular as its preceding works, namely Aida and OtelloFalstaff has long been an admired favourite with critics and musicians because of its brilliant orchestration, scintillating libretto and refined melodic invention. It is in the standard repertoire of many opera companies.

The (First) Performance(s)

Falstaff was premiered on February 9th, 1893 at La Scala in Milan, to great success. It moved overseas for the first time, in Vienna, on May 21st, 1893 and less than a year later to Hamburg, conducted by Gustav Mahler. It was also presented at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (London) and at the Metropolitan Opera (New York) in the following twelve months. The opera is still frequently performed throughout the world.

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