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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.
One of the earliest operatic versions of Shakespeare's 'The Merry Wives of Windsor', Salieri's Falstaff cuts back the original plot but adds a scene in which Mistress Ford pretends to be German to charm the old knight. The entire opera shows the influence of Mozart's 'The Marriage of Figaro', which was being successfully revived at the time.
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