The Merry Wives of Windsor

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The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)[1]

The original text

Most probably written prior to 1597 but first published in 1602. One of the first Shakespearean plays to be performed once the theatres re-opened in 1660. William Jaggard's "False folio" of 1619 bears the title "A most pleasant and excellent conceited comedy, of Sir John Falstaffe, and the merry wives of Windsor", but it is usually known by the shorter title.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Afrikaans as Hendrik IV

Translated into Setswana as Kgosi Henry wa Bone (1952) by [[M.O.M. Seboni].

Translated into Northern Sotho as Kgosi Henri IV (1973) by N.C. Phatudi

A number of operas by this name have been written over the years, most of them largely based on The Merry Wives of Windsor, with material from Shakespeare's Henry IV, (Parts I and II) added. Composers and librettists include:

  • Antonio Salieri and Carlo Prospero Defranceschi (1799)
  • Michael William Balfe and S. Manfredo Maggione (1838)
  • Otto Nicolai to a German libretto by Salomon Hermann Mosenthal (1848)
  • Giuseppe Verdi and Arrigo Boito (1893).

A "symphonic study" called Falstaff was also written by Edward Elgar in 1913.

Adapted as a stage play called Falstaff by Ian Ferguson in 1976, a combination of the "Falstaff" [2] scenes from Shakespeare’s plays Henry IV (parts 1 and 2) and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Performance history of the play in South Africa

1945: The Merry Wives of Windsor performed at the Standard Theatre, Johannesburg and Alhambra Theatre, Cape Town in collaboration with African Consolidated Theatres in 1945. Presented by the Gwen ffrangçon-Davies / Marda Vanne Company , with Marda Vanne, Gwen ffrangçon-Davies, Wensley Pithey as Falstaff, Rolf Lefebvre, Gavin Haughton, Alec Bell, James Workman, Jack Bligh, Noel Hewett, Zoë Randall, Pietro Nolte, decor by John Dronsfield, scene changes devised by Dulcie Howes.

1969: Performed at Maynardville, opening on 4 January 1969. Directed by Leslie French for Cecilia Sonnenberg and René Ahrenson. In the lead roles were Bernard Brown as Sir John Falstaff, Peter Curtis as Ford, Margaret Heale as Mistress Ford, Bruce Addison as Page and Cecilia Sonnenberg as Mistress Page. Other members of the cast were Christopher Galloway, Michael Drin, Glynn Day]], Timothy Heale, Ronald France, Don Maguire, Douglas Percival, Ron Fenton, Barrie Evrard, Alexander Bickett, Craig Curtis, Michael Burke, Bob Scott, Tony Bent, Cecilia Sonnenberg, Dorothy Scott and René Ahrenson. Set designed by Leslie French from a contemporary Elizabethan theatre. Dances arranged by Jennifer Craig.

1976: Falstaff (Shakespeare/Ferguson) performed by PACT (See details under Falstaff)

1984: Falstaff (Shakespeare/Ferguson) performed by CAPAB (See details under Falstaff)

1991: Directed by Ralph Lawson for CAPAB at the National Arts Festival 1991 starring Phillip Boucher (Falstaff), Diane Wilson, Lida Meiring, André Jacobs, Ronald France, Mary Dreyer, Kurt Wustmann, Richard Farmer, Jay Heale, Royston Stoffels, Mark Hoeben, Steven Raymond, Jonathan Pienaar, Barry Park, André Samuels, Pauline O'Kelly, Blaise Koch, Sizwe Msutu and Lwando Bango. Designs by Birrie le Roux, lighting by Malcolm Hurrell, music by David Nissen.

Performance history of the operas in South Africa

1938: Nicolai's opera presented at the Johannesburg Music Festival by John Connell.

1970: The Merry Wives of Windsor (opera) presented by NAPAC Opera.


"The Merry Wives of Windsor" in Wikipedia[3].

South African Opinion, 2(3):23; 2(5):22, 1945; Trek 9(22):22; 9(24):22, 1945.

Teater SA, 1(3), 1969.

Maynardville theatre programme, 1969.

Havergal Brian. "John Connell’s Johannesburg Festival" from "On the other hand". Musical opinion, June 1938, p. 777.

National Arts Festival programme, 1991. 42.

Percy Tucker 1997. Just the Ticket. My 50 Years in Show Business. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.

Alexandra Xenia Sabina Mossolow. 2003. The career of South African soprano Nellie du Toit, born 1929. Unpublished Masters thesis. University of Stellenbosch.

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