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The character of Sir John Falstaff – a vain, corpulent and cowardly knight - appears in Shakespeare’s two 'Henry IV' plays and 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'. Falstaff has also inspired a number of great classical works.
For his one act opera, Holst wrote his own libretto, assembling the story from episodes set at the Boar's Head Inn from the two parts of 'Henry IV'. Three of the melodic passages are original, otherwise, Holst devised his score from reworking folk tunes.
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