Premiered on 9 February 1893 at La Scala, Milan to great success, Falstaff was Verdi's last opera, written in the composer's ninth decade, and only the second of his 28 operas to be a comedy. It was also the third of Verdi's operas to be based on a Shakespearean play, following his earlier Macbeth and Otello. (Verdi had toyed, too, with writing an opera based on King Lear and Arrigo Boito later tried to interest him in Antony and Cleopatra, but neither project was ever brought to fruition.)
While it has not proved to be as immensely popular as the Verdi works that immediately preceded it, namely Aida and Otello, Falstaff has long been an admired favorite with critics and musicians because of its brilliant orchestration, scintillating libretto and refined melodic invention. It is in the standard repertoire of many opera companies.