"The stout Sir John Falstaff has financial problems. To refill his empty pockets he strives for amorous affairs with Alice and Meg, the wives of the rich citizens Ford and Page. The two ladies might even have consented, had they not received identical love letters. So they decide to play a trick on him. At the same time Alice exposes her husband’s chronic jealousy. In the end, Nannetta, the Fords’ daughter, is allowed to marry for love against her father’s plans.
Finally, a nightly masquerade in Windsor park brings out the moral of the story: „Tutto nel mondo è burla – All the world’s a burlesque“.
Towards the end of his operatic work, Giuseppe Verdi succeeds in a brilliant comedy of characters with philosophical wisdom and sparkling musical wit. The libretto of Arrigo Boito is based upon William Shakespeare’s comedy „The Merry Wives of Windsor“ and scenes from „Henry IV“.
Bernd Weikl’s witty production shows the simultaneity of tragedy and comedy. The opera’s motto „All the world’s a burlesque“ is also reflected in the stage design of Thomas Doerfler and in the costumes of Julia Holewik. Both set and clothes are inspired by Shakespeare’s theatre, the Italian tradition of „Commedia dell’ arte“ and the world of circus."