Sir John in Love, Coliseum, London

vaughan_williams_small.jpgBy Andrew Clark [Financial Times, 5 March 2006]
When Ralph Vaughan Williams decided in the 1920s to write a Falstaff opera, he knew that his senior compatriots Elgar and Holst had also recently completed Falstaff studies. He was familiar with Verdiís opera, and probably Nicolaiís too. But he went ahead and composed Sir John in Love, regardless of the comparisons he would face. That he pursued the project to its conclusion is not only testimony to the endless fascination of Shakespeareís fat knight, but also proof that Vaughan Williams had something to say. English National Operaís production ñ only the third professional staging in the workís history and the first for nearly 50 years ñ entirely vindicates his self-belief.