On her terrace, Norina laughs over a silly romantic story she’s reading. She is certain of her own ability to charm a man. Malatesta arrives. He is in fact plotting on her and Ernesto’s behalf and explains his plan: Norina is to impersonate his (nonexistent) sister, marry Pasquale in a mock ceremony, and drive him to such desperation that he will be at their mercy. Norina is eager to play the role if it will help her and Ernesto to be together.
In the garden, Ernesto serenades Norina, and the two declare their love. Pasquale and Malatesta arrive—too late to catch the young man, who slips into the house, while “Sofronia” plays the innocent wife. Malatesta then announces that Ernesto is about to introduce his own bride, Norina, into the house. “Sofronia” protests she will never share the roof with another woman and threatens to leave. Pasquale is overjoyed and grants permission for Ernesto to marry Norina, with his inheritance. When Sofronia’s identity is finally revealed, Pasquale accepts the situation with good humor, gives the couple his blessing, and joins in observing that marriage is not for an old man.
2 hours 13 minutes
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