Falstaff (opera)

  • Sir John Falstaff (baritone )
  • Ford, Alice's husband (baritone )
  • Fenton, in love with Nannetta (Tenor)
  • Dr. Caius (Tenor)
  • Bardolfo, in Falstaff's services ( Tenor)
  • Pistola, as well (Bass)
  • Mrs. Alice Ford (soprano )
  • Nannetta, her daughter (Soprano)
  • Mrs. Quickly, friend of Alice Ford (mezzo- soprano)
  • Mrs. Meg Page, as well (mezzo- soprano)
  • The landlord, Falstaff's Page Robin, a Page at Ford ( silent roles )
  • Citizens of Windsor ( chorus)

Falstaff is an opera ( lyric comedy in three acts ) by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto by Arrigo Boito based on William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, with the involvement of scenes from Henry IV The premiere took place on 9 February 1893 Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Falstaff is Verdi's second comic opera, while his last work for the stage.


3 flutes (3rd piccolo ), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons; 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, bass trombone ( tuba); Timpani, percussion, harp; strings; Incidental music (guitar or lute, horn, bell).


Act 1

1 image ( at the Gasthof zum Garter )

Dr. Caius bursts into the pub and accuses Falstaff to be invaded his house, and to have ridden his horse to shame. In addition to Falstaff's servants Bardolfo and Pistola have robbed him. Falstaff admits the allegation, his servants deny him. However, Caius do not know which of the two it was, and so judges Falstaff, he must dismiss the action. Caius vows to get drunk in the future only with decent people, and goes out. When the waiter comes to present Falstaff the bill, it must realize that he is broke. To become liquid again, but he has two - wrote letters to Mrs. Alice Ford and Meg Page Mrs. - identical. He believes that they succumb to his charm and open his coffers of their husbands. Bardolfo and Pistola will deliver the letters to the women. They refuse: forbid your honor them. Falstaff mocks the honor, it is merely a word that goes by. He gives his page Robin the letters and chasing Bardolfo and Pistola with the broom out of the inn.

Second image ( in the garden at Ford )

The letters have reached the two women. You read them before each other and realize that they - are identical - except for the title. From outrage they decide to give Falstaff a lesson. Mrs. Quickly, a mutual friend, should bring him a letter from Alice, in which she invites him to a rendezvous, where he is to be made because of his lust and a mockery of obesity. Meanwhile, Ford has also experienced by Bardolfo and Pistola that Falstaff wants to ensnare his wife. He wants Falstaff lure with money, lure them into his house and catch him with his wife in flagrante delicto. Throughout the hustle and bustle of Ford's daughter Nannetta and Fenton swear in every quiet minute to each other their love.

Act 2

1 image ( at the Gasthof zum Garter )

Mistress Quickly Falstaff comes and brings Alice's invitation: 2-3 he should come to her. Everything seems to be going in his favor. Especially when Ford comes, as Mr. Fontana ( German: Fountain ) imagines and confesses to him that he loves Alice desperately, but the only example from him. If it could succeed Falstaff to seduce Alice, maybe he would be able to land with her. For this he would jump quite a bit of money. Falstaff confesses to him triumphantly that he already had an appointment with her. When he leaves the guest room to get dressed, jealousy and anger break open out from Ford. He knows, however, when Falstaff reappears. Together they set out on the way.

Second image (with Ford)

Mistress Quickly announces that Falstaff was on his way. Nannetta complains that her father had promised Dr. Caius. Alice reassured her daughter so that she would prevent that. Falstaff comes, an old-fashioned serenade singing. When he wants to hug Alice, Mrs. Quickly comes in: The jealous Meg come. Falstaff hides behind a screen. Hardly has Meg enter the scene, Mrs. Quickly comes a second time: the men are on the march. Everywhere they look for the fat knight. The hiding in a laundry basket. Also Nannetta and Fenton are now come in and hide behind the screen. As for a moment, all is quiet, they kiss loud. Ford now believes that Falstaff had hidden there, and orders his men to storm the Screen. Falstaff fears, meanwhile, to suffocate in the wash. When Ford outlines the folding screen, but he can not find the knight, but the young couple. Before the two, however, can provide speech, believes one of his men to have seen Falstaff elsewhere. While the men pull back, Alice tells her servants, the laundry basket - with the hidden Falstaff to - to take and pour the contents into the Thames. She recalls the men, and with shouting, the basket is emptied into the river.

Act 3

1 image (before the guest house for the Garter )

Falstaff sits drenched and shivering in front of the guest house and laments the wickedness of the world. In a pot of mulled wine but his spirits awaken again. As Quickly appears to invite him to a new rendezvous with Alice, he rejects only brusquely, can be but then persuade. At midnight, he should arrive at Herne's Oak in Windsor Park, disguised as a black hunter with a deer antlers on his head. The hustle and bustle wants to use Ford to Dr. Caius disguised as a monk to marry his daughter. Mrs. Quickly, however, has overheard him: Fenton will also appear disguised as a monk.

Second image ( in Windsor Park at Herne's Oak )

In the moonlight, Fenton sings of his love for Nannetta. Falstaff appears in disguise and also Alice. When he enters stormy on them, suddenly Nannetta and the citizens of Windsor, dressed as a fairy queen with her retinue appear. Falstaff hides, but will soon be found and, badgered by the citizens, who are now also come. However, when he Bardolfo recognizes his liquor flag among them, he sees through the spook. The highlight of the masquerade will now take place a double wedding. Ford married the two couples dressed. When they put the cladding, all recognize that he has married Nannetta and Fenton - and Dr. Caius with Bardolfo. Gradually, all join in the final fugue: Tutto nel mondo è burla, l' om è nato burlone. ( Everything is fun on earth, man born a fool. )


Verdi's first comic opera, Un giorno di regno ( King for a Day, 1840) had become a fiasco, perhaps because the composition of private misfortunes had been overshadowed, like the death of his children (1838 and 1839 ) and the death of his first wife Margherita at the time of composition. Verdi refused after a long time off, to try in the comic genre. Plans for an opera based on Shakespeare's The Tempest (1850 for Covent Garden ) as well as for Falstaff or Tartuffe ( Antonio Ghislanzoni as librettist, 1868) he had in any case quickly fall again.

Obviously, it was Arrigo Boito, who directed the early summer of 1889 the attention of the now almost 76- year-old composer again on Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor. Verdi was immediately enthusiastic about the idea ( letter to Boito, July 6, 1889), but had one day later already concerns: Would he Boito not deter from the composition of Nerone? ( Nerone. Opera by Boito, posthumously completed by Arturo Toscanini and others not premiere until 1924) In general, Verdi would be able to bring the project to an end at his age? They agreed initially, push the issue in secret. Verdi would compose the piece just to have fun and pass the time. He is currently writing on a comic fugue ( letter dated August 18, 1889, see below).

Boito wrote the first two acts to mid-November, 1889, the third he sent Verdi early March 1890. March 8 paid for Verdi Boito 's libretto.

On March 17, 1890 reported Verdi, he had finished the first act (ie outlines ). Unfortunately was also working on Falstaff under an unlucky star, because in March fell ill their mutual friend, the composer and conductor of the premiere of Otello Franco Faccio, heavy ( he died after a long illness in the summer of 1891). On October 6, Verdi wrote to Boito, that he the second act are initially left the first and the sonnet have ( that is, the small Fenton aria at the beginning of the last picture ) is sketched. In March 1891 Verdi composed the finale of the second act. In further letters to Boito Verdi reported that he occasionally repeatedly working on Falstaff, but also for days. On September 8, 1891 Boito wrote to him that he had heard a rumor, the composition of Falstaff was over. Two days later, Verdi replied: "It is not true that I have finished the Falstaff. I'm working on so far to put in made ​​the score "because he was afraid to forget his ideas for orchestrating again. It was still missing (at least? ) The first part of Act 3. On April 17, 1892 Boito took a small change in the monologue about the honor before ( Act 1, 1st picture) and wrote: "They ( Verdi) can complete the first act and go to the second. " Sure is hereby Instrumentation meant. On September 20, 1892 Verdi wrote to Boito: "I have Tito [ Ricordi II, the publishers, 1865-1933 ] passed the third act of Falstaff. Yesterday I [ had not concerned the Verdi himself, but Carlo Carignani ] [ the corrections for ] the libretto and the piano score of the first act sent back. "

The premiere was scheduled for early February 1893, the sample should begin on January 2nd. The first performance took place as planned on February 9, 1893 was a great success. In early April took Verdi before two small changes in the finale of Act 2 and at the end of the first image of the third act.

At the first performance under the baton of Edoardo Mascheroni following singers were involved: Victor Maurel ( Falstaff ), Antonio Pini - Corsi (Ford), Edoardo Garbin ( Fenton ), Giovanni Paroli ( Dr. Caius ), Paolo Pelagalli - Rossetti ( Bardolfo ) Vittorio Arimondi ( Pistola ), Emma Zilli (Alice Ford), Adelina Stehle ( Nannetta ), Giuseppina Pasqua ( Mistress Quickly ), Virginia Guerrini ( Mrs. Meg Page ).

Arturo Toscanini later found a note in the score of Verdi's hand ( with reference to the monologue of Falstaff at the beginning of Act 3 ):

" Le ultime note del Falstaff. Tutto è finito! Va, va, vecchio John ... Cammina per la tua via, finche tu puoi ... Divertente tipo di Briccone; eternally vero, sotto maschera diversa, in ogni tempo, in ogni luogo! Va Va ... ... Cammina Cammina ... Addio! "

. ( The last notes of Falstaff Everything is over Go, go, old John run then on your way as long as you can ... Funny original of a rogue; !. Eternally true, behind every mask, at any time, any place! Get thee ... go ... run run ... Addio !)

About the Music

It is an amazing phenomenon of operatic history that after Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti in 1843 were to pass almost exactly 50 years before with Falstaff in Italy again a comic opera was created by rank, especially since there where neither an operetta Wiener nor the Parisian style has. So, Verdi had to reinvent it were, the comic opera. The only work that he regards the musical and dramaturgical invoice as a model could serve, namely Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868 ), apparently not mentioned in Verdi's letters. It almost seems that he - after visiting the Italian premiere of Lohengrin 1871 - conscious knowledge of the opera has its German antipodes avoided to its own development of external influences - and certainly of German - to keep clear: "non voglio essere Lohengrinato " (I will not be lohengriniert ) or" Vagner è fatto ed è inutile rifarlo " (Wagner already exist, and it is useless to do it again, Clarina Maffei, July 31, 1863). However think of Verdi 's biographer Julian Budden, in the final ensemble of the first act of Die Meistersinger ( " where the tenor rises above a vocal mixture in different rhythms " ) to identify the model of the grand ensemble at the end of the first act of Falstaff - and therefore assumes that Verdi the Italian premiere of Die Meistersinger, which was held until Christmas 1889 at La Scala in a highly abridged version of Giacomo Puccini, have attended.

This explains the different nature of Verdi's opera, despite some parallels: How the Meistersinger form a comic counterpart to the artistry of Tannhäuser, the Falstaff drama of jealousy of Othello ( a parallel to which the with Wagner's work much better familiar Boito perhaps deliberately aimed ). The external system is similar: three acts, aiming on most possible in a clear diction, melodic - recitative Parlandostil " through-composed " (i.e., without recitative or dialogue by separate individual numbers ), and the integration of the opera 19th century rather unusual musical form of the fugue. She was in the music of pre-classical quite common for the " Battaglia ", ie the battle scene, and was taken as such by Verdi in the revised version of Macbeth (1864 ) and of course traveling As guarantee of Wagner in Die Meistersinger again. The final fugue of Verdi 's Falstaff has probably already in August 1889 ( ie before completion of the libretto ) composed. On 18 August he wrote to Boito: "I amuse myself with making joints! Yes ... my lord: a joint ... and indeed a comic fugue (...) Why funny, ye will say? I ... do not know how or why, but it's a comic fugue "( he has another fugue composed for the final movement of his String Quartet in E minor in 1873. )

As a counterpart to the final fugue Verdi conceived the very first scene with Dr. Caius as Sinfonia Overture in sonata form, in which, however, already sung. As Scherzo Rondo the entire second image of the first act is designed. This recourse to older (ie classical and pre-classical ) orchestra forms corresponds a completely divergent from his earlier opera singing style. When it came to preparing the premiere, Verdi wrote to Ricordi (13 June 1892): "The music is not difficult (in terms of unwieldy ), must be different than in modern comic operas and in the old buffo operas are sung. I do not want that it (the Falstaff as an opera ) so sang such as Carmen (! ) And also not how the Don Pasquale or Crispino ( Crispino e la comare, comic opera by Luigi and Federico Ricci, text Francesco Maria Piave, 1850) were singing. It is important to study and that will take time. Our singer can only sing with a loud voice in general. They do not have vocal elasticity still clear and easy diction, and they lack accents and breathing. "

Well back in the 1860s, Verdi with the early Italian music (Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Benedetto Marcello, Leonardo Leo, Domenico Scarlatti ) in depth and - with regard to the education of young composers - recommended:

" Let's go back to the old, it will be a step forward. "

(Letter to Francesco Florimo, January 2, 1871, here again a strange parallel to Wagner: " Therefore I tell you, Honour your German masters " ). Verdi knew, of course, that there were no melodrama in the taste of this time, so in the manner of Don Carlos, Aida, La Gioconda ( Amilcare Ponchielli from ), or, finally, to make Otello with the means and the peculiarity of the early Italian madrigal music. He probably sought therefore already at the end of the 1860s after a material for a comic opera, and certainly he had not once taken for " Otello " a melodramatic material in attack. However, that music with her penchant for scholarly gimmicks in strict forms was made ​​for the comedy, in particular understood the comedy as a playful experiment, and recourse to it, the musical comedy had to reinvent. The old Opera buffa had indeed found with Don Pasquale a degree.

In fact, Verdi's Falstaff - much more directly than Wagner's Meistersinger - initiated a renaissance of the musical comedy about the turn of the century. Richard Strauss was an ardent admirer of this score. His symphonic poem Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks (1895 ) is almost a style copy of Falstaff (albeit without vocals), and also in Der Rosenkavalier (1911 ), Ariadne auf Naxos ( 1912), but especially in Intermezzo ( 1924), The silent woman (1935 ) and Capriccio (1942 ) are found in the vocal line and the orchestra Illustration over again reminiscences of Verdi's last opera. Also Ferruccio Busoni's Arlecchino (1917 ), the comedies of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari and not least Giacomo Puccini's Gianni Schicchi (1918 ) lead to the development started with Falstaff on. The fact that the last opera of nearly eighty year-old composer opened a new development, situated in the history of music a rare phenomenon, comparable perhaps only with the meaning of the symphonies of the late Joseph Haydn for the development of this genre in the 19th century.