"Falstaff", the last opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi, returns to the stage of the Bucharest National Opera after many years of absence from the repertoire, under the directorial vision of Graham Vick, a British artist known for his original and experimental productions. The production he created in 1999 at the Royal Opera House "Covent Garden" in London, inspired by the paintings of the Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel, is highly suggestive of Graham Vick's particular style, and this directorial imprint is also found in the show "Falstaff" created on the stage of the Bucharest Opera House.
Sir John Falstaff feeds his ample stomach with the help of stealth and taking advantage of his noble title. Dr. Cajus is convinced that Falstaff and his two associates, Bardolfo and Pistola robbed him last night. Unfortunately he was too drunk to prove his accusation.
In order to pay the bill he owes, Falstaff writes love letters to the wives of two wealthy men. When Bardolfo and Pistola refuse to carry the letters, Falstaff ridicules their new sense of honor and throws them out.
Alice Ford and Meg Page discover that they have received identical love letters. Together with Alice's daughter, Nanetta, and Mrs. Quickly, they decide to take revenge on Sir John Falstaff.
Bardolfo and Pistola need a new boss. They inform Ford of Falstaff's plan to seduce his wife. Prompted by Dr. Cajus, who is in love with Nannetta, Ford decides to pay Falstaff an incognito visit. While this plan is hatched, Ford's daughter has a few tender moments with her boyfriend, Fenton.
Pretending to regret the quarrel, Bardolfo and Pistola return to Falstaff. Mrs. Quickly brings Falstaff the message from Alice: she has received the letter and is available to meet him between two and three in the afternoon. Falstaff takes the bait.
Bardolfo announces a certain Mr. Brook. Ford enters with a bizarre request: he is madly in love with a married woman - Alice Ford - but she doesn't want to hear from him. He will give Sir John Falstaff a small fortune to seduce her: once he has lost his virtue, Alice will be tempted to sin again. Falstaff takes the money assuring his new friend that he will be successful because he already has a date with Alice that very afternoon. Left alone, Ford is dismayed by the confirmation of his wife's infidelity, but thanks the feeling of jealousy for restoring his masculinity.
The women's plan is to wait until Falstaff is alone with Alice, then pretend that the jealous husband is coming home, make Falstaff hide in a laundry basket, and then throw the basket, along with Falstaff, into the window, in the river. But they have to improvise because Ford actually returns home then, determined to embarrass his wife and her aristocratic lover. The sound of kisses behind a screen betrays the lovers. Ford calls his friends to witness his wife's humiliation, but instead of Falstaff and Alice they discover Nannetta and Fenton. Ford swears to Fenton that he will not give his daughter in marriage.
Alice makes her husband see how Falstaff is thrown into the water, in full view and without arrangements. Thus, it is not only Falstaff who is mocked.
As Sir John dries in the sun, he ponders how the world has come to be, but his depression is soon banished with a cup of mulled wine.
Another visit from Mrs. Quickly annoys him, but she brings him a letter from Alice, and he cannot resist the temptation. It's a secret love meeting in the park at midnight. He will have to wear the horns of the legendary Black Hunter.
Meanwhile, Alice organizes everyone else's roles, roles they have to play in the nighttime farce. Nannetta will be the Fairy Queen, covered by a white veil. Ford secretly promises Cajus to marry him to Nannetta that evening, but Mrs. Quickly overhears everything.
Alice has her plan to marry Nannetta to Fenton. At midnight, Falstaff enters the park full of desires, Alice sneaks through the bushes and lures him. When he learns that Meg will be joining them, Sir John is overjoyed. A cry is heard and Alice runs. Falstaff remains alone and terrified by the park that seems to come to life, surrounds him, haunts him and frightens him terribly. The spirits terrorize him to make him promise to repent, but Falstaff recognizes Bardolfo and realizes that it is all a farce. When the women discover themselves and Mr. Brook turns out to be Ford himself, Sir John sits down in despair.
Ford announces a new surprise: the wedding of the Fairy Queen. Covered in a white veil, she will marry a mysterious character, but another couple wants to receive the blessing as well. Encouraged by Alice, Ford agrees to both marriages. He asks the couples to reveal their identities: in the general amusement he sees that the Fairy Queen, whom he has just married to Cajus, is none other than Bardolfo. Alice tricked him into consenting to his daughter's marriage to Fenton. Caught in his own trap, Ford forgives the two lovers and accepts their marriage. Ford asks Sir John to pay for dinner, and they all agree that the world might be a joke, full of buffoons, but he who laughs last laughs best.