Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
At a party in the house of Leonato, Governor of Messina, Claudio, a young Florentine lord, and his friend Benedick, from Padua, are admiring the ladies. Claudio is devoted to Hero (Leonato's daughter), and on learning of this interest, Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, sets off to woo her for his friend. Benedick meanwhile makes a joke of his own secret admiration for her cousin Beatrice and maintains that he will remain a bachelor. Beatrice enters and the two begin their war of wit and affected scorn for one another. Don John, bastard brother to Don Pedro, begins to plot with his follower Borachio how to discountenance Claudio, whom he hates. As Hero's engagement to marry Claudio is sealed, all rejoice except Don John, who hatches a plot to have Borachio introduced into Hero's chamber, apparently as her lover. That evening in Leonato's garden, Don John tells Claudio that Hero has a lover, and the sight of Borachio admitted to her balcony convinces him that this is so (in fact it is not Hero who receives him, but a servant in Hero's dress). At the wedding ceremony the following day Claudio accuses Hero of wantonness. She swoons. The priest Friar Francis believes her innocent and suggests that her death be announced to allow time for the truth to be discovered and Claudio to repent. In the final act, the watchman Seacole and the officer Dogberry discover the truth from Borachio, and Claudio and Hero are reunited, while Beatrice and Benedick cease their joking and admit their love.