The Merry Wives of Windsor  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy by William Shakespeare featuring the fat knight Sir John Falstaff and is Shakespeare's only play to deal exclusively with contemporary English life.

Adaptations and cultural references

  • The composer Antonio Salieri wrote the opera buffa Falstaff (1799), with a libretto by Carlo Prospero Defranceschi, which also adapts the main story line of The Merry Wives of Windsor for the operatic stage.
  • The German composer Carl Otto Nicolai wrote an "singspiel"" based on the comedy in 1849, Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor.The opera contains much German spoken dialogue, and many of the character's names have been changed (the names of the Mistresses Ford and Page are now Futh and Reich) and there is more focus given between the romance of Fenton and Anne. It is the only adaptation to include the disguising of Falstaff as a woman.
  • Giuseppe Verdi's last opera, Falstaff, with a libretto by Arrigo Boito, is based on the play. In this adaptation, the plot is kept largely as Shakespeare wrote it, but the story line is condensed and simplified, and there are several changes. For example, Anne (known as Nanetta) is now the daughter of Mistress Ford, not Mistress Page, and she is betrothed by her father to Dr. Caius alone, with Mistresses Ford and Page conspiring to aid in her elopement with Fenton. The roles of Master Page, Slender, Shallow, Sir Hugh Evans, and many others are eliminated. to flesh out Falstaff's character, librettist Arrigo Boito adds material from Shakespeare's Henry IV, Parts I and II, including the famous "honor" soliloquy found in act I scene II of Henry IV Part I. It is largely considered to be the best operatic adaptation of The Merry Wives of Windsor, as well as one of opera's greatest comic achievements.
  • The English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote Sir John in Love, an opera based on this play in the years 1924–28.Much of the libretto is taken directly from Shakespeare's text, making it the most accurate of the operatic adaptations. The only version to retain all of the characters as well as the subplot of the duel between Dr. Caius and Sir Hugh Evans.
  • The play was adapted to Kiswahili by Joshua Ogutu and performed at the Globe Theatre in London as part of the 2012 Globe to Globe festival.
  • For the 2012 Oregon Shakespeare Festival season, Alison Carey adapted the play into a political satire called The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Merry Wives of Windsor" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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