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The Gondoliers Plot
                         THE GONDOLIERS
                    or The King of Barataria
 COMIC OPERA in two acts by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
The cast:
THE DUKE Of PLAZA-TORO (a Grandee of Spain)
LUIZ (his Attendant)
DON ALHAMBRA DEL BOLERO (The Grand Inquisitor)
Venetian Gondoliers
CASILDA (her Daughter)
Chorus of Gondoliers and Contadine, Men-at-Arms, Heralds and
                             ACT I
               The Piazetta, Venice (Date, 1750)
The two Gondoliers, Marco and Giuseppe, are so handsome and have
such winning ways that they have completely turned the heads of
the pretty contadine. Marco and Giuseppe are nonplussed as to
whom to choose as their brides. They decide to solve the problem
by allowing themselves to be blindfolded, whilst the contadine
and their superfluous gondolier admirers dance round Marco and
Giuseppe. In the ensuing game Marco catches Gianetta, and
Giuseppe, Tessa. The remaining contadine accept their fate and
pair off with the previously ignored gondolieri. They all run off
merrily to get married.
As they disappear a gondola stops before the steps of the
Piazetta. From it emerge the Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro,
their daughter Casilda and their suite, consisting of "His
Grace's private drum," Luiz. They are dressed as befits their
noble station, but their clothes are a little the worse for wear.
They have brought their daughter Casilda from Spain. The Duke
demands an audience with Don Alhambra, the Grand Inquisitor.
While Luiz is on the errand the Duke reveals to Casilda that when
she was a six-months-old babe she was married by proxy to the
infant son of the wealthy King of Barataria. The King of
Barataria subsequently became a Wesleyan Methodist of a most
bigoted and persecuting type. The Grand Inquisitor, determined
that such an innovation should not be perpetuated in Barataria,
stole the youthful heir to the throne and conveyed him to Venice.
A fortnight later the Barataria King and his Court were all
killed in an insurrection.
Casilda, therefore, is now Queen of Barataria. But the
whereabouts of the new King is not definitely known. Casilda,
unfortunately, is in love with someone else--her father's
"private drum," Luiz--and they are both despondent at the sad
thought of what the future must bring.
Don Alhambra, the Grand Inquisitor, who now approaches and is
introduced to Casilda, explains that when he stole the youthful
Prince of Barataria, he brought him to Venice and placed him in
the family of a highly respectable Gondolier, who had a son of
the same age. The Gondolier, through a fondness for drinking,
muddled up the two children, and when the Inquisitor went to
fetch the Royal Child he found it impossible to tell which was
which. This news is received rather philosophically The only
person who can possibly tell is the foster mother of the Prince,
Inez (who is Luiz' mother) . Luiz is sent to fetch her.
Giuseppe and Marco now return with their new-wed wives. Don
Alhambra (whom at first they mistake for an undertaker) informs
them that either Giuseppe or Marco is the King of Barataria, and
that until the mystery is unravelled they must take up the reins
of government as one individual. They may take all their friends
with them--all, that is, except the ladies, who must stay behind.
This is rather a blow, but they are assured that the separation
will be only for a short period. A boat is then brought, and the
Gondoliers clamber aboard with Giuseppe and Marco, whilst the
contadine wave a tearful farewell.
                             ACT II
             A Pavilion in the Court of Barataria
                      (Three Months Later)
Both Marco and Giuseppe, when they were Gondoliers, had ideas on
Republican government, and they have reorganized the state on
their idealistic principles. The result is somewhat chaotic, but
they seem to enjoy it, and as the act opens they are seen
cleaning the royal crown and sceptre whilst they sit, clad in
magnificent robes, on the royal throne. If they want anything
done they have to do it themselves. In a delightful little song,
"Of happiness the very pith," Giuseppe outlines his day's work as
a monarch about the palace. Only one thing is missing, they feel-
-it is dull without female society.
Scarcely have they confessed the fact when the contadine run in,
led by Fiametta and Vittoria. Curiosity is the cause of the
invasion, though they know they were strictly forbidden to come.
They are all very excited. Tessa and Gianetta are anxious to know
if their husbands have anyone to mend the royal socks, and if it
is known yet which of them is to be queen.
In honor of their arrival Giuseppe and Marco announce a grand
banquet and dance. In the middle of a brilliant cachucha there is
an unexpected interruption. Don Alhambra enters. He is astonished
at the scene, and tries, by quoting an example, to explain where
their theories of government are wrong.
He announces the arrival of Casilda. One of them, he says, Marco
or Giuseppe (whichever is the real King of Barataria), is married
to the beautiful Casilda, and is, of course, an unintentional
bigamist if he has married a contadina in the meantime. Poor
Tessa and Gianetta are very upset. By the light of this new
exposure, one of them is married and one of them is not. But they
cannot tell which it is. They burst into tears.
Meanwhile Casilda is afraid that she will never learn to love her
husband. The Duchess is firm. "I loved your father," she says,
and proceeds to explain how she married and "tamed" him. The Duke
has turned his social prestige to account and has become a
limited company. His daughter feels that there is hope that when
the King sees what a shady family he has married into he will
refuse to recognize the alliance. Both the Duke and the Duchess
repudiate the statement that their transactions are shady in a
delightful duet, "To help unhappy commoners".
Marco and Giuseppe explain the state of the country and the
attitude of their subjects towards them. The Duke, in the famous
Gavotte, "I am a courtier," instructs them on the correct
demeanor of a king, which they try, very awkwardly, to adopt.
Marco and Giuseppe are tactfully left alone with Casilda, but
Gianetta and Tessa come in, and they all discuss the highly
complicated problem of exactly who is married and who is not.
They are interrupted by Don Alhambra, who enters, accompanied by
the Duke and Duchess and all the court of Barataria. Inez, the
foster-mother of the Prince has been found. She alone can unravel
the mystery. Inez is brought forward. She confesses that when she
took care of the royal prince, and there was an attempt to steal
the child, she substituted her own little boy. The traitorous
bands never knew the difference, and the child she slyly called
her "son" is none other than the King of Barataria.
Luiz is, therefore, the King. Casilda and Luiz are reunited, and
everything ends happily, much to the secret relief of Marco and
[Plot summary from the book The Victor Book of the Opera, RCA
Manufacturing Co., Camden, NJ, 1936.]
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