OTTO NICOLAI (1810 - 1849)
A native of Königsberg, Otto Nicolai was educated largely in Berlin, through the intervention of a sympathetic patron, and made a name for himself there, without great material success. A period in Rome as organist at the Prussian Embassy aroused his interest in opera, an enthusiasm he was able to pursue at the Court Opera in Vienna, finally, in the year before his death, achieving the position of director of the Berlin Cathedral Choir and Kapellmeister of the Berlin Opera.
Nicolai is best known for his opera based on Shakespeare’s comedy Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor), rejected by the opera in Vienna, but first performed in Berlin in March 1849, two months before Nicolai’s early death. The opera occupies an important position in German Romantic operatic repertoire.