German romanticism and Italian charm combine with Shakespearean comedy: this was Otto Nicolai’s inspiration for his »comic-fantastic« opera. The way in which the »Merry Wives of Windsor« give the smug Knight Sir John Falstaff – who has seen better days – the literal runaround, is a masterstroke of characterisation through music.
First performed on stage at the Hofoper Unter den Linden in March 1849, this work by the Berlin court conductor Nicolai quickly became a fixture in the repertoire. Besides energy, playful wit and theatrical comedy, Mozart’s spirit and Mendelssohn’s esprit are just as palpable as the Italian bel canto. Both in the libretto and score, the characters’ individual profiles stand out, while the buffoonish twists and turns of the plot tip things over the edge, including the different shades of atmosphere in scenes that feature both light and dark sides. For many years this vibrant work, a comic opera in the best sense of the word, was no longer in the Staatsoper repertoire; but it now returns with its inspired score to the venue where it was premiered.
Pre-performance lecture 45 minutes prior to each performance (in German), Speaker: Detlef Giese
Staatsoper Unter den Linden