Reference Entry

Sir John in Love

Michael Kennedy

in Oxford Music Online

Published in print December 1992 |
Published online January 2002 | e-ISBN: 9781561592630 | DOI:

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Opera in four acts by Ralph Vaughan Williams to his own libretto after William Shakespeare ’s play The Merry Wives of Windsor, with interpolations from other Shakespeare plays and other authors; London, Royal College of Music, 21 March 1929.

Vaughan Williams here sets the same plot as Verdi’s Falstaff but stays closer to Shakespeare. For extra arias and choruses he went to other Shakespeare plays (e.g. ‘Sigh no more, ladies’, from Much Ado about Nothing) and to other poets, particularly Ben Jonson, whose ‘See the chariot at hand’ forms the melodic climax of the last scene. Ten folksongs are incorporated into the score, the best-known being ‘Greensleeves’, which Mrs Ford (mezzo-soprano) sings at the beginning of Act 3; the orchestral introduction to this act was later issued separately as the Fantasia on Greensleeves. Two English folkdances are also used. However, the folktunes represent only a fraction of the score; Vaughan Williams’s original melodies, particularly that for ‘See the chariot’, are in his most lyrical vein. Falstaff’s Act 2 love song, ‘O that joy so soon should waste’, is especially effective....

Reference Entry.  219 words. 

Subjects: Opera ; Musical Scores, Lyrics, and Libretti

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