Fabulous Mister Fat Belly

[The Guardian, 28 February 2006]
Vaughan Williams was fully aware of the challenge that faced him when he set out to write Sir John in Love. “To write another opera about Falstaff might seem the height of impertinence,” he wrote. “One appears in so doing to be entering into competition with three great men – Shakespeare, Verdi and Holst.” Of course, many reading that now would be surprised by his mention of Holst, whose Falstaff opera, At the Boar’s Head (to which Sir John in Love was intended as a sequel), was greeted with incomprehension at its 1925 premiere, and is still disliked by some critics. But Vaughn Williams’ statement is also startling for what it omits. He avoids mention of Elgar’s “symphonic study” Falstaff, composed in 1913, and of another opera he much admired: Otto Nicolai’s Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor, first performed in 1849.
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image_description=Ralph Vaughan Williams: Sir John in Love (ENO)