A hall in the Windsor Palace. The courtiers comment on the love of the king and Giovanna Seymour. Giovanna herself has a guilty conscience, for the queen is unaware that Giovanna had become her rival. Anna is tormented by bad feelings, but she suspects nothing. To chase the sadness away, she asks Smeton the page for a song whose words remind Anna of her old love (the aria “Come innocente giovane”). She renounced her love for the King and she naively warns Giovanna that she should never succumb to the allure of power. Giovanna knows she behaves like a traitor. The King tries to comfort her, assuring her of his love, but Giovanna wants to have his assurances confirmed by a wedding. Enrico is initially outraged at her demand, but he finally promises to get rid of his wife, even if that means slandering her.
The park around Windsor Castle. Rochefort greets Percy, who returns from exile at the King’s summon. Riccardo Percy does not hide the fact that he still loves Anna (“Da quel di che, lei perduta”). Rochefort advises him to be cautious, especially since the royal retinue is coming. Enrico welcomes Percy warmly, while Anna tries to hide her feelings. The King orders Hervey to follow the queen’s former paramour, as he wants to obtain proof of her infidelity.
Outside the Queen’s apartments in Windsor. Smeton, the Queen’s page, has decided to return the medallion that he had secretly stolen from the Queen. He kisses her image one last time, as if saying his goodbyes to a lover, and then he hides at the sound of footsteps coming. It is Rochefort, coming to ask his sister to see Percy; Anna refuses at first, but succumbs eventually. She does remind Percy, however, that she is now a wife and the Queen. He begs her for reciprocity, and when Anna continues to resist, he takes out his weapon and attempts to kill himself. Smeton comes out of hiding to defend the Queen and this is the embarrassing situation in which the King finds his wife. The page assures him that he is innocent, but Enrico finds the medallion on him, and deems it to be proof of betrayal. He will not be the one to judge Anna’s guilt – it is up to the court. Giovanna, Rochefort, Percy, and Smeton feel that her death is a foregone conclusion; Anna also feels she cannot escape doom.
The Queen’s chambers at the Tower. Anna’s ladies-in-waiting try to cheer her up, but Harvey orders them to attend an interrogation. Giovanna begs Anna to plead guilty and thus save her life, while allowing the King to instate the woman he loves on the throne. Anna asks about the name of her rival, and Giovanna eventually admits it is her. The Queen tells her to leave, but she does forgive her.
Outside the royal council hall. Hervey announces to courtiers that Smeton pleaded guilty. He knows that this has sealed Anna’s fate. Anna begs the King to let her avoid the court, and Percy defends her, accusing the King of taking away his beloved, the woman who was betrothed to him. Anna prefers death to disgrace, and so admits that she loved Percy, who, in turn, reveals that they were married. Enrico, though shaken by this fact, knows that this means there are no more obstacles to his marrying Giovanna and making her queen. She begs him to spare Anna’s life, but the King refuses to listen. The council announces the verdict: Anna and her supporters are to be put to death.
A prison cell at the Tower. Hervey announces to Percy and Rochefort that the King has pardoned them, but when they both learn that Anna is to be executed, they choose to die with her. The ladies-in-waiting came to say goodbye to the Queen. Anna, driven mad, remembers old times and her youthful love (the aria “Al dolce guidami”), says goodbye to her brother, Percy, and Smeton. The page knows that it was his admission that caused his beloved Queen to be sentenced to death. The sound of bells announces the marriage of Giovanna to the King. Anna forgives everyone and is ready for death (“Coppia iniqua”).
Jacek Marczyński, Przewodnik operowy, Świat Książki, 2011