Dr. Caius bursts into Sir John Falstaff’s room at The Garter Inn, accusing him of his unfair behaviour the night before. He then accuses Falstaff’s two henchmen, Bardolph and Pistol, of having robbed him while he was drunk. Falstaff informs Bardolph and Pistol that in order to fix his finances he plans to seduce Alice Ford and Meg Page, both wives of two wealthy Windsor men. Alice Ford and Meg Page laugh over the identical love letters they have received from Falstaff. They share it with Alice’s daughter Nannetta, and with their friend Mistress Quickly. Ford arrives, followed by four counsellors: Dr. Caius, whom Ford wants as Nannetta’s future husband; Bardolph and Pistol, who are now looking for employment from Ford, and Fenton, who is in love with Nannetta who loves him in return. When Ford learns of Falstaff’s plan to seduce his wife, he gets jealous. While Alice and Meg plan how to take revenge on their inappropriate suitor, Ford decides to disguise himself and pay a visit to Falstaff.
L'onore? Ladri!, Falstaff's Monologue
Quell'otre, quel tino, Wives Quartet
Mistress Quickly informs Falstaff that it will be easier to seduce Alice, since her husband is out of the house every afternoon. Bardolph announces that Mister Brook (in fact, Ford in disguise) wants to speak to Falstaff. Mr. Brook offers him wine and money if he seduces Alice Ford, explaining that he has long been in love with her and if she were to be seduced by a more experienced man like Falstaff, she might be more likely to fall a second time and accept him too. Falstaff agrees to the plan. Mistress Quickly, Alice and Meg are preparing for Falstaff’s visit. Nannetta complains to her mother about the Father's marriage plan for her. Falstaff arrives and begins his seduction of Alice. They are interrupted by Alice's husband arrival. As Ford rushes in with a group of townsfolk, Falstaff goes hiding in a laundry basket. Fenton and Nannetta also hide. Ford and the other men search the house. Ford is furious when discovers Nannetta and Fenton kissing, meanwhile Alice instructs her servants to empty the laundry basket out of the window so Falstaff is thrown into the River Thames.
È sogno? o realtà..., Ford's Monologue
Quando ero paggio, Falstaff's Arietta
Mistress Quickly persuades Falstaff that Alice wasn't responsible for what happened at Ford’s house. She proposes a new rendezvous in Windsor Great Park. In a letter that Quickly gives to Falstaff, Alice asks him to appear at midnight, disguised as the Black Huntsman. Nannetta will be Queen of the Fairies and the others, all in disguise, will help to continue punishing Falstaff. Ford promises Caius that he will marry Nannetta that very evening but Quickly overhears them. At the park, Alice explains to Nanetta a plan to trick Ford into marrying them. They all hide as Falstaff approaches. At midnight, Alice appears and declares her love for him, but then runs away, saying that she hears spirits approaching. Nannetta, disguised as the Queen of the Fairies, summons her followers who attack Falstaff, making him promise to give up his dissolute behaviour. But Falstaff recognizes Bardolph, and realizes that he has been played. Dr. Caius now comes forward with a figure in white: they are to be married by Ford. Alice brings forward another couple, who also receives Ford’s blessing. When the brides remove their veils it is clear that Ford has just married Fenton to Nannetta, and Dr. Caius to Bardolph. Everyone is now laughing and Ford can only forgive the two lovers.