The Merry Wives Of Windsor

In three acts by OTTO NICOLAI.


This charming opera has achieved the fame of its composer, of whom very

little is known, except that he is the author of this really admirable

musical composition, which is valued not only in Germany but all over

Europe. Its overture is played by almost every orchestra, and the

choruses and songs are both delightful and original. As may be

gathered from the title, the whole amusing story is taken from

Shakespeare's comedy.

Falstaff has written love-letters to the wives of two citizens of

Windsor, Mrs. Fluth and Mrs. Reich. They discover his duplicity and

decide to punish the infatuated old fool.

Meanwhile Mr. Fenton, a nice but poor young man asks for the hand of

Miss Anna Reich. But her father has already chosen a richer suitor for

his daughter in the person of silly Mr. Spaerlich.

In the following scene Sir John Falstaff is amiably received by Mrs.

Fluth, when suddenly Mrs. Reich arrives, telling them that Mr. Fluth

will be with them at once, having received notice of his wife's doings.

Falstaff is packed into a washing-basket and carried away from under

Mr. Fluth's nose by two men, who are bidden to put the contents in a

canal near the Thames, and the jealous husband, finding nobody,

receives sundry lectures from his offended wife.

In the second act Mr. Fluth, mistrusting his wife, makes Falstaff's

acquaintance, under the assumed name of Bach, and is obliged to hear an

account of the worthy Sire's gallant adventure with his wife and its

disagreeable issue. Fluth persuades Falstaff to give him a rendezvous,

swearing inwardly to punish the old coxcomb for his impudence.

In the evening Miss Anna meets her lover Fenton in the garden, and

ridiculing her two suitors, Spaerlich and Dr. Caius, a Frenchman, she

promises to remain faithful to her love. The two others, who are

hidden behind some trees, must perforce listen to their own dispraise.

When the time has come for Falstaff's next visit to Mrs. Fluth, who of

course knows of her husband's renewed suspicion, Mr. Fluth surprises

his wife and reproaches her violently with her conduct. During this

controversy Falstaff is disguised as an old woman and when the

neighbors come to help the husband in his search, they find only an old

deaf cousin of Mrs. Fluth's who has come from the country to visit her.

Nevertheless the hag gets a good thrashing from the duped and angry


In the last act everybody is in the forest, preparing for the festival

of Herne the hunter. All are masked, and Sir John Falstaff, being led

on by the two merry wives is surprised by Herne (Fluth), who sends the

whole chorus of wasps, flies and mosquitos on to his broad back. They

torment and punish him, till he loudly cries for mercy. Fenton in the

mask of Oberon has found his Anna in Queen Titania, while Dr. Caius and

Spaerlich, mistaking their masks for Anna's, sink into each other's

arms, much to their mutual discomfiture.

Mr. Fluth and Mr. Reich, seeing that their wives are innocent and that

they only made fun of Falstaff, are quite happy and the whole scene

ends with a general pardon.

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