Otto Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor is based on the Shakespeare play of the same name. Nicolai was not the only composer to create an opera or operetta based on the play. Other adaptations include Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff (1893) and Vaughan Williams’s Sir John in Love (1929). The popularity of this play in the opera world can be attributed to the plot’s comedy and tragedy, disguise, and happy ending, which are all common elements of traditional operettas.
Sources: Text & Image: A watercolor painting by John Masey Wright of a scene from Shakespeare’s original play: Falstaff wooing Mistress Ford