Sir John Falstaff – Baritone
Ford – Baritone
Caio – Tenor
Bardolf – Tenor
Pistol – Bass
Anna – Soprano
Lady Page – Mezzo Soprano
Dame Lesta – Mezzo Soprano
Other occasional characters
Sir John Falstaff, Lord Swaggerer, master and owner of the Falstaff Enclave of Southern Hispaniola, is resting himself in the Great Hall – before beginning the production of a new harvest of genetic agents on his great lizard body, which he uses as a chemical plant, all dedicated to the purity of the domain – when Caio, the delegated local administrator, breaks forth to complain about Falstaff’s lackeys that ruined his deal with the Chinese.
John listens to him with complacency and then calls one demon at a time: first, Bardolf the cruel, who denies such actions, claiming he was in orbit engaged in acts of espionage at this juncture, and quickly directs suspicion against Pistol, the blood demon, who brings misery and famine to locations as commanded by the master. Pistol saunters in on a full stomach and denies the occurrence, although Caio points his finger at him (‘Certo fu lui! Guardate. Come s’attegia al niego quel ceffo da bugiardo!’). Amused, Pistol exchanges pleasantries with Caio, who furiously demands compensations from Falstaff. The latter in turn asks which deal has been interrupted by the alleged intervention of his personnel and Caio explains that it was the one related to the selling of chemical weapons for the war against St. Petersburg.
Falstaff then puffs himself up angrily, proclaiming aloud that Caio acted against humanity by encouraging the war, before secretly accusing him of acting behind the Enclave’s back, claiming that he did not know anything about such deals, otherwise he would have demanded more than the habitual tithe. He concludes by condemning Caio to abandon Hispaniola forever. Caio loses his temper and begins listing Falstaff’s crimes, which only increases the ruler’s anger, who immediately interrupts the discourse, rising against the delegated administrator and spitting in his face. Caio tries to escape but it is too late. Falstaff coldly explains that Caio is going to die within a few days. However, not before witnessing the condemnation of his own family; the virus that now runs inside his veins will spread through the Enclave and attack the genetic traits similar to his own, without any chance of redemption. Caio is kicked out of the premises by the demonic lackeys.
Falstaff thus converses with Bardolf and Pistol, telling them that they cannot afford to lose more valiant men like Caio as there is an urge to sanitize the finances of the domain. It is a risk to declare war against the neighboring enclaves, since they share the same resources as the island and this would give international political organizations a reason for meddling with what is of no concern to them; the gentle weapon of partnership would be smarter and more fitting.
Hence he writes two letters engraved in fire into the spirits of both demons. One of them is to invite the ruler of Martinique; the other is directed to the British Virgins. Both leaders aspire to enter Hispaniola territory and both of them hold genetic heritage easily adaptable to Falstaff’s. With some luck, he thinks they will fight each other to the point of extinction over the privilege of being chosen; an idea Falstaff considers particularly enjoyable.
Change of scene. Enter A. Ford, chief conductor of Martinique, who is visibly agitated by the recent visit from the emissary of Hispaniola, and his daughter and acolyte, Anna, who tries to soothe him and bring him back to his senses. Falstaff must have some trick up his sleeve: he would not offer such a generous invitation to establish relations between the two enclaves if he was not to profit from it. Ford wants to be cautious, but he also sees herein a possibility to solve the gravest issues with the domain. Anna suggests using his secret contacts for investigating the matter and exits the scene. Ford sings a heartbreaking aria, in which the leader’s heart opens up to reveal the desolation that has overcome the domain: one pest after another, climatic chaos responsible for the resource depletion of the island, and a total abandonment by the continental allies in regard to new financing.
Anna returns, agitated, she bears news and establishes a connection to M. Page, a mistress of an obscure Enclave of the British Virgins, who is accompanied by her page Lesta. Page has received a communication from Falstaff with equal content, and she has deemed the invitation an exclusive one as well. Ford is offended and intends to refuse, but Anna as well as Page advise him to contemplate that they are relatively powerless by themselves (‘Se ordisci una burla, vo’ anch’io la mia parte. Conviene condurla con senno, con arte’). However, if they unite in complicity during Falstaff’s absence, they might be able to turn into a dangerous opposition.
Ford’s arrival at the Southern harbor of the Falstaff Enclave. The Lord awaits him with great ceremony, surrounding himself by blazing palm trees, all large animal species the domain keeps, and hundreds of subjects displaying victuals. The intent is not only of an entertaining nature, but also to humble the guests by flaunting his wealth. And it indeed has an effect on Ford who is unable to take his eyes off the abundance capable of saving his people. It is a double-edged sword.
Falstaff leads him ashore and immediately begins weaving the web: he explains how the two enclaves should unite, how they would become stronger than they are now. Ford objects saying that evidently Falstaff grows by the day – what can a small, weakening borough offer him? Promises for the future, Falstaff counters, that is where he is looking. He then explains that Martinique is rich in resources, but Ford, limited by his genetic heritage, would need years for the ecology of his enclave to adapt to the brutal conditions of the island; Falstaff, on the contrary, is a holder of genetic abundance in constant change, of which he himself serves as an example, able to accelerate the evolutionary process – all that needs to be done is a fusion of basic DNA and the respective territories.
Ford responds he requires some time to think, knowing very well that a fusion like the one proposed would eliminate the unique traits of Martinique’s ecology forever. Falstaff thus seizes the opportunity to inform that Page’s enclave is also interested, and that she has just arrived by spontaneous will, who knows if to present a counter offer? …
She is a forceful woman, Falstaff notes almost absent-mindedly, and by using force it is possible to control a domain, a quality that could help him out with his plans. But he hopes to come to an understanding with Ford, seeing that, in his opinion, M. Page is phony and sly, appearing to be an angel but is in fact a demon in disguise.
Ford tells him that he needs to speak to his daughter.
Meanwhile, Anna is guided to the chambers by Pistol, who is constantly twirling around her, praising her beauty and proposing a quick physical union to be consummated without delay. Anna feels disgusted, but considering that she might obtain information from the creature, she plays with him and allows him into the room. She insinuates he will get what he wants if he discloses information about his master’s true intentions. Pistol responds to her game, and explains that only well-formulated questions will get sincere answers.
Thus begins an exchange of phrases. Anna formulates question after question and Pistol tells her whether she is getting further from or closer to the truth until she starts to get it right:
Non si tratta di papà, allora!
Ah, vedo un fuoco ora…
È la sua figlia che si vuole?
Calore mi riempie il cuore.
Io influenzare la sua decisione.
È il sole o un’illusione?
Si spera che lo convinco!
Giocando così non vinco…
O sono io che ha bisogno di convincere?
Lei affondare nel ghiaccio con rincrescere.
Non capisco. E ‘il mio silenzio che ci si aspetta?
Forse siete indietro nella traccia eletta…
Loro cercherà di isolare me.
Un po ‘a sinistra per piacere me.
Before Anna is able to react, Pistol spreads his wings and asks her whether ignorance is not more blissful than awareness. He pounces on her, tearing her flesh and raping her in an orgy of blood that stains the whole room.
In the end, satisfied, he carefully prepares the evidence that will incriminate Page, admiring ‘How cunning the master is!’, and leaves the scene.
Falstaff and Ford end the tour through the domain. Falstaff informs him that he will meet Page the following day, but that Ford will be welcome to attend the meeting if he wishes to. Worried about his missing daughter, the leader of Martinique cannot think of anything else. Falstaff calls for Bardolf to search for Anna while he comes clean: if Martinique does not want to accept, he will have to proceed with Page’s proposal, a thought that is not to his liking. Ford does not know what to answer since he mistrusts everyone. So, tragedy begins when Bardolf returns greatly agitated, a bearer of fatal news. They run to the room where Ford finds the body of his daughter. He mourns his loss and Falstaff tries to comfort him, explaining that he will not rest until the culprit is found. Ford then finds a left-behind object bearing the label of the house of Page. Filled with indignation Falstaff orders the expulsion of the other group from the island. Ford asks him to hold back as he does not want to accuse someone without compelling evidence. Falstaff praises his clear reasoning in such a moment of great pain and offers him his help, which Ford is unable to decline.
He is left alone with his dead daughter, to whom he sings of his heartbreak and his anguish to discern the truth behind the lie. In this game he has already begun to lose. However, the label of the house of Page in his hand gives him an idea.
Page is sleeping when awoken by Lesta, who tells her that Ford would like to speak to her. Ford bursts into the room and recounts what has happened. Page denies it vehemently; she has been framed by Falstaff who intends to set one against the other. Page asks Lesta to rummage through Anna’s room with the help of the spies they brought. If strong evidence is found, Ford will be entitled to stoke up a feud against Lord Swaggerer, counting on the help of the enclaves that Falstaff subjugated. Yet, Ford should be patient and carefully examine the possibility of a counterattack.
In the following scene, Falstaff joins Ford in the great hall showing his concern regarding his guest’s health. Ford remains friendly, yet cold and distant. Page enters, whom Falstaff discreetly refers to as the phony one. And he tells her, ‘Milady, I regret to inform you that a grave incident seems to have happened last night.’ Page reveals she already knows about everything and answers furiously that she will not accept being accused of something she did not do. As proof she brings forward Lesta, who has inspected the room and discovered surveillance sensors and their recordings. Falstaff does not feel obliged to explain the presence of such instruments – anyone would have used them. However, he is disappointed when faced with Ford’s attitude, who showed weakness by siding with the enemy. He claims that he wants to see those pieces of evidence and then he will punish the guilty ones who acted against his orders.
The recordings denounce what has happened and show the placing of the incriminating object. The anguished father calls Falstaff a monster even more demonic than his demons. He in turn coldly asks him whether he knows where that demonic species comes from and, at the sight of Ford’s ignorance, Falstaff asks Pistol to show it to him. The lackey begins an enchanting litany that causes Lesta to have convulsions. The maid’s skin tears apart, exposing the being it harbored: a demonic figure of the same species as Pistol or Baldorf.
Ford yells and says he is about to go mad. Who is a friend; who is an enemy? He backs away from Falstaff and Page and proclaims that he will return to Martinique, but that his daughter will be revenged.
While the conference room is being cleaned, silently and mindful of whom might listen, two of Ford’s acolytes comment to one another about what is being said in regards to the health of their leader. It seems that he wanders around at night speaking to ghosts, unaware of the domain and its dwindling people. He thinks too much about his deceased daughter.
Ford enters accompanied by his advisor; the acolytes are chased out and flee. Ford is healthier than he pretends to be. It is a disguised scheme of his, feigning to be weak, creating a decoy for Falstaff to attack him with ease and overconfidence. The advisor suggests caution, seeing that the enemy is deceitful and will be prepared. All biological and physical defenses of the island are on alert, but even these will not be enough when confronted with the power of Southern Hispaniola. Ford understands that it is a risk, but he trusts in the international community, it will not remain quiet if such conflict begins.
In fact, they receive an alert reporting a barge of survivors: Page and her people are seeking temporary refuge on Ford’s island. From the top of the rail, Page explains that when faced with the ultimate refusal of partnership, Falstaff secretly attacked her enclave, spreading plagues that quickly damaged the island’s ecology. While contemplating the destruction, Page decided to activate the slow death gene, which will consume her body in the event of an invasion by pathogens. She was unable to stop Falstaff but she will not let him seize her genetic heritage. They escaped from a dead enclave in search of a new shelter and Page asks Ford to provide her with supplies for the voyage. He agrees.
In that very moment Ford receives another message. Falstaff announces that he is at a distance from Martinique and requests authorization to dock. Ford immediately notifies Page, who realizes that she is the reason for his coming; he is chasing her to stop the extermination. But why, Ford inquires, does he risk so much for this purpose? Page thus reveals her biggest secret: the gene of slow death bears the power of affecting and destroying the biological structure of Falstaff’s Enclave and he has found out about it. The attack was not an innocent one. Economic reasons were a facade meant to hide Lord Swaggerer’s potential weakness.
Ford has no other choice. He commands Page’s ship to be hidden and allows Falstaff to draw nearer, but without docking before informing him of the reasons he came. He is told stories about military incursions at the coast of Hispaniola perpetrated by the armada of the British Virgins. Falstaff is chasing Page in order to present her before an international court. Whoever provides shelter to her, in his opinion, is a criminal just the same. Ford confirms he did not see her nor did he receive any communications from her. Falstaff requests to go ashore but Ford says the matter regarding the murder of his daughter is not yet resolved and does not grant him permission. Falstaff thus swears that everything bad that has happened to the British Virgins might happen to Martinique and gives him until nighttime to reconsider.
Ford returns to Page and tells her that there is a great opportunity to destroy Falstaff once and for all. All that they need to do is to lure him into a closed environment so that she can release the lethal venom. How to persuade him to come to such a place? Ford quickly conjures up a plan in which Page comes forward as his official refugee, requesting a hearing to end hostilities. Yet, the venom is also fatal for the people of Martinique, she warns him, it would be lethal for you. ‘So inoculate me with the antidote when you are infecting Falstaff… if it doesn’t work, it is still better than living under that despicable reign,’ he says. Page agrees.
The meeting takes place. Falstaff on one side, Ford and Page on the other. Falstaff tells Ford that he lied, that he now finally knows who his enemies are; that Ford has allied with Page and sacrificed his own daughter to have an excuse before the international guards to legitimize a vendetta.
Page wants nothing to do with it. She requires immunity from Ford against Falstaff’s attacks and states that this will be enough for an external intervention. Falstaff laughs and tells her that he will not grant her biological immunity, let alone a political one. Page becomes angry and tries to attack Falstaff, but he wards her off and hits back without any result. After a brief struggle, it is Ford who eventually catches Falstaff and lets Page fill the air with the promised venom. Falstaff backs off, feeling unwell he falls to the ground and sings an aria about his death and of the end of an empire never to witness the return of its former glory. His voice weakens, diminishes, fades away, and dies.
Ford, feeling equally weak, then asks Page to give him the antidote, which she provides. Ford hence says, ‘I can’t believe this took so long.’ Page does not understand, then he grabs her arm and bites it: ‘A gift from Falstaff.’ Page staggers, agonized by the reaction caused by the antibodies that devour her flesh.
‘You’re in cahoots with him! … And what about your daughter?’
‘I am in no cahoots, my dear, I am him. Do you think you are the only one to have sophisticated weapons?’ and in a brief explanation he reveals he was able to compress the information of his memory and personality into a protozoan with which he infected Ford the previous night. ‘You can only win if you are willing to make sacrifices… now I possess your venom and the cure to your venom, and I have united two enclaves in a single place without anybody knowing; I even have a new identity to outwit my enemies.’ While she dies, he ends the opera, singing:
Tutto nel mondo é burla.
L’uom é nato burlone,
La fede in cor gli ciurla,
Gli ciurla la ragione.
Tutti gabbati! Irride
L’un l’altro ogni mortal.
Ma ride ben chi ride
La risata final.
The curtain falls.