Otto Nicolai

Otto Nicolai
  • Born: 9 June 1810, Königsberg, Germany
  • Died: 11 May 1849, Berlin, Germany

Otto Nicolai is very nearly a one work composer.  His most famous work is Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, a Singspiel based on Shakespeare; a high-spirited piece mixing sentiment, lyrical beauty and rambunctious comedy.  Most people outside Germany know it only for its overture.

He wrote five operas, four of them for Italy, two of which he later revised for Germany.  He could, though, have written one of Verdi’s classics.  He was offered the libretto for Nabucco, but turned it down; instead, he composed Il proscritto, which Verdi had rejected – but this work flopped so disastrously that he returned to Germany.

He was court conductor at the Vienna Hofoper from 1841 to 1847; founded the Berlin Philharmonic Society in 1842; and was conductor of the Berlin Opera in 1847.

He died of a stroke two months after the Weiber’s premiere, on the day that he was elected a member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Arts.


  1. Rosmonda d’Inghilterra (Enrico II) (1839)
  2. Il templario (1840)
    • Der Tempelritter (revision) (1845)
  3. Gildippe ed Odoardo (1840)
  4. Il proscritto (1841)
    • Die Heimkehr des Verbannten (revision) (1844)
  5. Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (1849) ****