Giuseppe Verdi was born into a period when Italian comic opera, after more than a century of world-wide triumph, was losing its appeal, and the musical tragedy had become the preferred form. Hence Verdi directed himself towards the musical tragedy, and it was here that he achieved his towering stature - Othello will stand for a long time as an unsurpassed masterpiece.
However, Verdi remained convinced that opera needed laughter as well as tears and, receiving the draft of a libretto in 1889 from Arrigo Boito, he set to work on the monumental Falstaff, the central character of which is an amalgam of two Shakespearean characters - the finely drawn figure from King Henry IV and the caricature of knightliness gone to seed from The Merry Wives Of Windsor. The plot is taken from the latter comedy. This is the Schirmer Edition of the Vocal Score and is in Italian with an English translation by Walter Ducloux.