‘a life-enhancing celebration of love,
laughter and joie-de-vivre’


7, 9, 15, 21, 29 June 2019


Composer | Giuseppe Verdi

Librettist | Arrigo Boito

Orchestra | The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Sung in Italian


Verdi’s last opera is a comedic and life-enhancing celebration of love, laughter and joie-de-vivre. The portly old lecher tries to win the affections of three buxom ladies who all triumphantly outwit him and have lot of fun in the process.

Verdi always had a copy of Shakespeare in Italian next to his bed. He wrote this infectious quicksilver score, setting text from The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV Parts 1 and 2  in a remarkable late-flowering Indian summer comedy. He was 79 when it premiered.

The Grange Festival is proud to announce with this new production the arrival to opera of Royal Shakespeare Company and West End director Christopher Luscombe and the welcome return of conductor Francesco Cilluffo whose Verdi Requiem on the Grange stage in 2017 still remains powerfully in our memories.

With many well-known names as well as brilliant young artists in the cast, this modern opera brings an exciting combination of Verdi and Shakespeare to The Grange.

Production Team
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Francesco Cilluffo


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Christopher Luscombe


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Simon Higlett


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Peter Mumford

Lighting Design

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Mitchell Harper


Francesco Cilluffo’s future engagements include Isabeau for Opera Holland Park and New York City Opera, L’Oracolo and Mala Vita for the Wexford Festival, La Voix Humaine (featuring Anna Caterina Antonacci) and Cavalleria Rusticana for the OperaLombardia in Italy.

Recent operatic engagements include: Tosca Tulsa Opera, Roméo et Juliette, Madama Butterfly and La Bohème  Israeli Opera, A Midsummer Night’s Dream Teatro Ponchielli in Cremona, Reggio Emilia and OperaLombardia (Como, Brescia, Pavia), Risurrezione Wexford Festival, L’italiana in Algeri Opera Toulon, Napoli Milionaria at Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, Rigoletto Israeli Opera, La Traviata Opéra Royal de Wallonie,  Il barbiere di Siviglia Teatro Carlo Felice, Genoa; Wolf-Ferrari’s Il Campiello Opera di Firenze and Teatro Verdi diTrieste; L’elisir d’amoreTeatro Regio diParma, Teatro Comunale di Modena and New Israeli Opera; Tutino’s Le braci (world premiere) Festival della Valle d’Itria, Martina Franca and Opera di Firenze;Nabucco Theater Kiel; and Mascagni’s Guglielmo Ratcliff Wexford Festival (broadcast on BBC Radio 3).

Born in Turin, he received his conducting and composition degree from the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi and graduated in Musicology from Turin University. He continued his studies in London, where he was awarded Master in Composition (with distinction) Guildhall School of Musicand Drama and a PhD in Composition King’s College, London.

Christopher Luscombe read English at Cambridge.          

Credits include Star Quality and The Madness of George III (Apollo); Home and Beauty (Lyric); Fascinating Aïda (Harold Pinter – Olivier Award nomination for Best Entertainment); The Comedy of Errors and The Merry Wives of Windsor (Shakespeare’s Globe); Nell Gwynn (Shakespeare’s Globe and Apollo – Olivier Award for Best New Comedy); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park); Enjoy (Gielgud); Alphabetical Order (Hampstead); When We Are Married (Garrick – Olivier Award nomination for Best Revival); Travels With My Aunt (Menier Chocolate Factory); The Rocky Horror Show and Spamalot (Playhouse), Hay Fever (Minneapolis) and Henry V (Chicago).

His work for the Royal Shakespeare Company includes Twelfth Night, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing (also Chichester and the Haymarket) and The Shakespeare Revue (also Vaudeville). He is an Associate Artist of the RSC.

He will be directing The Rocky Horror Show in Melbourne this summer, followed by Nell Gwynn in Chicago, The Nightingales in Bath and The Winter’s Tale in Cincinnati. He directed Candide for the 2018 Festival.

Forthcoming, current and most recent designs – The Price (Theatre Royal Bath), The Chalk Garden and The Midnight Gang (Chichester Festival Theatre), Love’s Labour’s Lost, Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night (Royal Shakespeare Company), An Ideal Husband (West End) and Schonberg in Hollywood (Boston Lyric Opera).


Simon has designed for the Royal Court, the Almeida, the Donmar, the Old Vic, Hampstead Theatre, many productions in the West End, and has numerous credits at Chichester Festival Theatre and most of the major regional theatres in the UK.

Highlights include The Marriage of Figaro (Scottish Opera),The Earthly Paradise (Almeida), The Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Donmar), The Force of Change (Royal Court),  The Merry Wives of Windsor (Stockholm), Haunted (NYC/Brits Off Broadway), Pygmalion (Old Vic),  Singer (RSC), The Brothers Karamazov (Manchester Royal Exchange) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (major UK tour).

Simon designs for opera worldwide and is the winner of the Manchester Theatre Award for Best Design, two TMA Best Design Awards, and the Helen Hayes Best Design Award in the United States.

Recent opera and dance includes Carmen (The Grange Festival); Corybantic Games (Royal Ballet); The King Dances, Edward II,

E=mc2 and Faster (BRB); Carmen (Miami City Ballet); Ein Reigen (Vienna State Ballet); Katya Kabanova (Boston Lyric Opera); Manon Lescaut, Werther, Carmen (Metropolitan Opera, NYC ); La Traviata (Glyndebourne); Damnation of Faust and Madame Butterfly (ENO). He directed and designed concert stagings of The Ring Cycle (Opera North), Otello (Bergen National Opera) and Fidelio (Orchestre de Chambre de Paris). Theatre includes My Name Is Lucy Barton (The Bridge); The Way Of The World (Donmar Warehouse), Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Ferryman and 42nd Street (West End), The Stepmother (Chichester) and The Slaves of Solitude (Hampstead). Awards include Oliviers for Outstanding Achievement in Dance, 1995, Best Lighting Design, 2005. The South Bank Sky Arts Opera Award (The Ring Cycle (Opera North), 2017) and the Helpmann and Green Room Awards for Best Lighting (King Kong, 2013).

Mitchell trained at Laine Theatre Arts.


Performance credits include; Ensemble u/s Hook in Peter Pan (Theatre Royal, Newcastle) Ensemble u/s Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk (Kings Theatre, Edinburgh) Toy Soldier in Nutcracker (MAC, UK & Ireland) Playlist Performer (Carnival Cruise Line) FT Ensemble in Snow White (Bristol Hippodrome) Ensemble u/s Prince Charming in Cinderella (New Theatre Cardiff) Ensemble u/s Robin in Robin Hood (Theatre Royal Plymouth).

Television includes; Handsome Bell Boy in Dr. Who (BBC) Dave in Being Human (BBC). Mitchell has also modelled for Spa Experience, Rhys Giles, Burton, Bound To You, Chisel Cheeks, Barry M, Ynad Javier and L’Oreal. 


Creative credits include; Choreographer Dick Whittington (Lighthouse Poole) Choreographer Around the World in 80 days (The Union Theatre) Choreographer Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Grange Festival) Offie Nomination; Best Choreographer Twang!! (The Union Theatre) Choreographer HMS Pinafore (UK Tour) Choreographer The Mikado (UK Tour) Associate Director Fabulous 50 (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre) Choreographer Goldilocks (Ivy Arts Centre) Choreographer Loserville (Ivy Arts Centre and Electric Theatre) and Choreographer Jack and the Beanstalk (Freshwater Entertainment).


Mitchell is delighted to be back at The Grange Festival this year. 

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Robert Hayward


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Nicholas Lester


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Alessandro Fisher


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Graham Clark

Dr Cajus

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Christopher Gillett


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Pietro di Bianco


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Elin Pritchard


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Rhian Lois


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Susan Bickley


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Angela Simkin

Meg Page

Robert Hayward made his professional opera debut singing the title role in Don Giovanni for Glyndebourne Touring Opera in 1986. 

He has performed at the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Frankfurt Opera, Stuttgart Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Scottish Opera and  Glyndebourne Festival Opera  in a wide repertoire including Wotan The Ring, Amfortas Parsifal, Jokanaan Salome,  the title roles in Eugene Onegin, Don Giovanni, Mazeppa, Der fliegende Holländer, Falstaff and Macbeth; Iago Otello,  Scarpia Tosca, Marcello La bohème, Escamillo Carmen,  Tomsky The Queen of Spades,  Nick Shadow The Rake’s Progress, Mandryka Arabella, Golaud Pelleas et Melisande, Kurwenal Tristan, Prince Ivan Khovansky Khovanshchina, Simone in Zemlinsky’s Florentine Tragedy and Telramund Lohengrin.

Recent and forthcoming operatic engagements include Fidelio, Moses und Aaron, Khovanschina (WNO), The Makropulous Case, Tosca, Peter Grimes, Die Walküre,  Andréa Chenier, Jokannen and Scarpia (Opera North), Lady Macbeth and the Chief of Police  Jack the Ripper (ENO), Jokannen (Northern Ireland Opera), title role in Bluebeard’s Castle and Telramund (Frankfurt Opera), Damnation of Faust (Staatstheater Stuttgart), the title role in Mazeppa and Moses, Moses und Aron (Komische Oper Berlin), Bluebeard’s Castle (Scottish Opera, Los Angeles Opera and in concert with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain).

Nicholas Lester studied at the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music and the National Opera Studio, London (where he lives as a dual Australian/British Citizen)‚ sponsored by Glyndebourne. He was a State Opera of South Australia Young Artist.

Recent and future plans include title role Eugene Onegin and Figaro Il barbiere di Siviglia (Welsh National Opera)‚ Guglielmo Cosi fan tutte‚ Dandini La Cenerentola, Figaro Il barbiere di Siviglia (voted “Best Male in a Leading Role” by the audience)  and Frédéric Lakmé  (Opera Holland Park)‚ Marcello, Valentin Faust (Dorset Opera Festival)‚ Josef K in Philip Glass’s The Trial‚  Germano La Scala di Seta‚ Dr Malatesta Don Pasquale and Ping Turandot (Scottish Opera)‚ Marcello (English National Opera)‚ Guglielmo (Danish National Opera)‚ Daddy Bear Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs (The Opera Story)‚ Escamillo Carmen (Mid Wales Opera) and Gianni Schicchi (Amsterdam).

Notable concerts include Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen for Maurice Béjart’s ballet Song of a Wayfarer (English National Ballet)‚ Brahms Requiem (Beijing)‚ Vaughan-Williams Five Mystical Songs (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra)‚ Fauré Requiem (St Martin-in-the-Fields) and Messiah under Laurence Cummings.       

Nicholas was a recipient of an Independent Opera/NOS Postgraduate Voice Fellowship‚ awards from the Simon Fletcher and Tait Memorial Trusts, Glyndebourne’s Anne Woods/Johanna Peters award and is grateful for support from Chris Ball and Serena Fenwick.

A member of the BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists Scheme and Winner of First Prize at the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, Alessandro Fisher read Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambidge, furthering his studies at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

He sang Alindo/Delmiro Hipermestra (Glyndebourne), and his engagements have further included Lucano/First Soldier L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Salzburg Festival), the title role in Dardanus  English Touring Opera), Count Bandiera in Salieri’s La scuola de’ gelosi  (Bampton Classical Opera), Roussel Evocations (BBC Philharmonic, now available on Chandos CD), BBC Radio 3’s Big Chamber Day and recitals at Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery, Oxford Lieder and London’s Wigmore Hall. His recordings further include Theodore in Edward Loder’s Raymond and Agnes with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Richard Bonynge for Retrospect Opera.

He is an Associate Artist of Classical Opera for whom he has sung Bastien Bastien und Bastienne, Don Polidoro La finta semplice and Christian The First Commandment.



Born in Littleborough in Lancashire, Graham Clark studied with Bruce Boyce and began his operatic career with Scottish Opera in 1975. He was a Company Principal at ENO (1978-85).

He has performed with all of the leading UK opera houses and has also had an extensive international career in particular at the Bayreuth Festival, where he has performed over a hundred and twenty times and at The Metropolitan Opera, where he has performed 82 times. Graham Clark is especially associated with the works of Wagner and has performed Loge and Mime Der Ring des Nibelungen over 275 times

Recent and future operatic engagements include Wozzeck, Metanoia, Lulu and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Staatsoper Berlin), Reimann’s Lear, Capriccio and Makropoulos Case (Oper Frankfurt), Schreker’s Der Schatzgräber (De Nederlandse Opera) Der Traum ein Leben (Theater Bonn), Capriccio, Falstaff, From the House of the Dead (Paris Opera, ROH, Brussels and Lyon), Hänsel und Gretel (Northern Ireland Opera), Falstaff (Glyndebourne), La Fanciulla del West (ENO), a new commission by Iain Bell In parenthesis (WNO), Capriccio and Tristan und Isolde (ROH). Concert engagements include a concert performance of Tristan und Isolde (West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in Seville), Falstaff  (CBSO), Der Rosenkavalier (Boston Symphony Orchestra) and Oedipe (LPO in London and Bucharest).

Most recent and forthcoming engagements of British tenor Christopher Gillett include Triquet Eugene Onegin Scottish Opera‚ Henri Clerval Frankenstein and Beadle Banford Sweeney Todd La Monnaie, Red Whiskers Billy Budd Teatro Real‚ Madrid‚ and Royal Opera House Covent Garden‚ and Snout A Midsummer Night’s Dream Festival d’Aix en Provence and Beijing Music Festival.


Other important recent appearances have included Rev. Horace Adams Peter Grimes Teatro alla Scala and Aldeburgh Festival‚ Valzacchi Der Rosenkavalier Glyndebourne Festival‚ Emperor Turandot Northern Ireland Opera‚ Mr Lovelace A Harlot’s Progress (world premiere) Theater an der Wien‚ Cura Il Postino (world premiere) Arnalta L’Incoronazione di Poppea and Basilio Le nozze di Figaro Los Angeles Opera‚ Flute A Midsummer Night’s Dream Teatro alla Scala‚ Sellem The Rake’s Progress Birmingham Symphony‚ NUTRICE Poppea Dutch National Opera Amsterdam and Pisandro Il Ritorno d’Ulisse Amsterdam‚ Antwerp‚ Lisbon‚ Sydney and New York.



On CD/DVD‚ Christopher recorded the title roles of Albert Herring and The Martyrdom of St Magnus‚ as well as roles in Billy BuddThe Beggar’s OperaPeter GrimesA Midsummer Night’s DreamKing PriamIl Ritorno d’Ulissse in Patria‚ and operas by Oliver Knussen and Tan Dun. He has filmed Britten’s The Journey of the Magi with Pierre Audi and directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the University of Illinois. A regular contributor to various magazines, he has written two books, Who’s My Bottom? and Scraping The Bottom, with a third on the way.

Italian born bass-baritone Pietro Di Bianco’s upcoming and recent engagements include Thoas Iphigénie en Tauride, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, Lully’s Armide Innsbruck Alte Musik Festival, Selim Il Turco in Italia Salzburger Landestheater, Don Profondo Il Viaggio a Reims Teatro Coccia of Novara (as part of Milan EXPO 2015) and Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia Opéra national de Paris Bastille where he will be back as Spinelloccio in Gianni Schicchi next to Placido Domingo in the title-role, Biscroma Viva la Mamma Opéra de Lyon, Nicholas in Vanessa and Don Annibale in Il campanello at Wexford Festival Opera.

Other recent roles include Collatinus the Rape of Lucretia Theatre de l’Athénée in Paris and Beaupertuis Il cappello di Paglia by Nino Rota at the Petruzzelli Theatre Bari. In 2014 he also won first prize at the Paris Opera Awards Competition.

Welsh Soprano Elin Pritchard is a graduate of the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she was awarded a Master of Opera with distinction and a Master of Music, and of London’s National Opera Studio.  She is also a Samling Artist.

Her operatic roles have included Micaëla Carmen (Mid Wales Opera), Female Chorus The Rape of Lucretia (British Youth Opera, Miss Jessel The Turn of the Screw, Nella Gianni Schicchi, Giorgetta Il tabarro,  Stella I Gioielli della Madonna and Musetta  La bohème (Opera Holland Park), Lucia Lucia di Lammermoor (Buxton Festival Opera), Fiordiligi Così fan tutte (Den Jyske Opera), and Donna Elvira Don Giovanni (Finnish National Opera). For Scottish Opera, she has sung Donna Elvira, Anne Trulove The Rake’s Progress and Violetta La traviata.

Elin is equally in demand on the concert platform with repertoire including Bruckner Mass in F Minor, Brahms Requiem, Dvorak Te Deum, Fauré Requiem, Mendelssohn Elijah, Mozart Coronation Mass, Mass in C Minor and Requiem, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle and Stabat Mater, Rutter Requiem and Verdi Requiem.

Recent and future engagements include  Kupava The Snow Maiden and Nedda  I Pagliacci (Opera North),  Violetta and Tatyana Eugene Onegin (Den Jyske Opera),   Tosca (English Touring Opera), Miss Jessel (ENO at the Regent’s Park Theatre),  Adalgisa in a concert performance of Norma (Chelsea Opera Group), Marie /Daughter of the Regiment for Opera della Luna (Buxton Festival),  Beethoven Symphony No. 9 (Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra), Poulenc Gloria (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), Haydn St Nicholas (English Chamber Orchestra), Mahler Symphony No. 4 (Northern Chords Festival), Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony (Brighton Philharmonic), Hathaway – Eight Arias for a Bardic Life (Buxton Festival),  Brahms Requiem (Ulster Orchestra) and at St John’s Smith Square and Opera Galas (Clonter Opera and the Samling Foundation at the Wigmore Hall).

Welsh soprano Rhian Lois has performed to great acclaim on the English National Opera stage in roles such as Adele Die Fledermaus, Nerine in Charpentier’s Medea and Atalanta Xerxes. In 2015 she made her Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, debut as Papagena, and in summer 2016 she made her North American debut as Zerlina in Santa Fe.

In 2018/19 Lois will make some major role and house debuts, including Nanetta in Verdi Falstaff and Valencienne in Lehar The Merry Widow. She will also perform in concert at the International Enescu Festival.

 2017/18 was a season of major debuts, with a house debut at Grand Théâtre de Genève as Angellka in the European premiere of Figaro gets a Divorce, and two role debuts at English National Opera as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Governess in The Turn of the Screw. Recent highlights include Susanna and Barbarina Le nozze di Figaro, Adele Die Fledermaus for Welsh National Opera.

Concert performances included a recital for the International Opera Awards Foundation as well as a performance at the Royal Albert Hall alongside Kings College Cambridge Choir as part of the Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival.

Highlights of the 2017-18 season include Eduige in Handel Rodelinda for English National Opera under Christian Curnyn, Auntie in Britten Peter Grimes with Edward Gardner and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival, Eurycleia in John Fulljames’ production of Monteverdi Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria for the Royal Opera at the Roundhouse, and Carmen in David Sawer’s world premiere The Skating Rinkfor Garsington Opera. 


Recent operatic highlights include Matron in Shostakovich The Nose at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Paulina in Ryan Wigglesworth’s world premiere The Winter’s Talefor English National Opera, and Genevieve in Debussy Pelléas et Mélisande for Garsington Opera. Bickley has performed with Opera North as Kostelnicka in Janáček Jenufa, as well as Waltraute Götterdämmerung and Fricka Die Walküre in Wagner’s Ring Cycle; she also returned to Welsh National Opera to sing Marcellina The Marriage of Figaro, a role she reprised in summer 2016 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Previous highlights include Herodias Salome at Dallas Opera and San Francisco Opera, Messagiera Orfeo with the Royal Opera House at The Roundhouse; Mother in the world premiere of Tansy Davies’ Between Worlds, and Jocasta in the world premiere of Julian Anderson’s Thebans, all for English National Opera; Kabanicha Katya Kabanova at Opéra de Paris, Kostelnicka Jenůfa, Baba the Turk The Rake’s Progress and Mrs Grose The Turn of the Screw at Glyndebourne, Irene Theodora, Ludmilla The Bartered Bride, Aksinya Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Babulenka The Gambler; Virgie Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Madre in Nono’s Al gran sole carico d’amore at the Staatsoper Berlin and Salzburg Festival.


Angela Simkin began her training at the Royal Northern College of Music, furthering her studies at the International Opera School of the Royal College of Music and the National Opera Studio.

Her engagements have included Nancy Albert Herring, Second Lady Die Zauberflöte, Conceptión L’heure espagnole and Madama la Rose La Gazzetta (RCM), Teseo Arianna in Creta and Iside Giove in Argo (London Handel Festival), Lucilla Il Vologeso and Messiah (Classical Opera), Messiah by Candlelight (Raymond Gubbay Ltd at the Royal Festival Hall) and Mozart Requiem (Orion Orchestra).

Between 2016 and 2018, Angela Simkin was a member of the Jette Parker Programme at the ROH, where she has sung Mlle Dangeville Adriana Lecouvreur, the title role in Handel’s Oreste (at Wilton’s Music Hall), Second Lady Die Zauberflöte, Annina Der Rosenkavalier, Tebaldo Don Carlo and Flora Bervoix La traviata.

She returns to the ROH in 2018 / 2019 to sing Flosshilde Der Ring des Nibelungen and will also sing Siegrune Die Walküre (London Philharmonic Orchestra).

Act I

In Windsor, Sir John Falstaff, a fat elderly knight, is having his customary drinking session at the Garter Inn with his buddies Pistol and Bardolph. Being penniless, he is always dreaming up get-rich-quick schemes. His latest wheeze is to profess love to two rich married women, Alice Ford and Meg Page, hoping really to get access to their money, and sends them both identical letters. Alice and Meg compare notes, are furious and, with their friend Mistress Quickly, and Alice’s daughter Nannetta, resolve to punish Falstaff once and for all. Alice’s husband Ford, Falstaff’s creditor Dr Caius and young blade Fenton, in love with Nannetta, are also keen for revenge on Falstaff and similarly plan his come-uppance. 

Act II

Alice invites Falstaff to her home, while her husband Ford is away. The plan is for Meg suddenly to surprise him. But Meg tells Alice that Ford is about to return.

Alice tells the discombobulated Falstaff to hide in the large laundry basket. This done, Alice orders her servants to throw the laundry basket out of the window into the river Thames. The sight of the soaking-wet Falstaff delights his tormentors.


Ford wants his daughter, Nannetta, to marry the elderly Dr Caius, but she has other ideas with Fenton.

Mistress Quickly invites Falstaff for a midnight tryst with Alice in Windsor Great Park, under Herne’s Oak. Feeling glum, he is initially reluctant, but he dresses up as Herne the Hunter and sets off.  Ford, realising his error in ever suspecting his wife, plans with his friends to dress as creatures of the night and ambush Falstaff. He also plots separately with Dr Caius to deceive his daughter into marriage with him.

Fenton and Nannetta serenade each other under the oak tree. The women arrive early, disguise Fenton, and thwart Ford’s marriage plan for his daughter. The fairies-in-disguise set upon and thrash Falstaff. He accepts the joke, acknowledges his due and takes comfort in realising he is not the only one to be duped. 

The whole company sings a glorious fugue, “Tutto nel mondo è burla …tutti gabbati”, delighting in the folly and fun of life.