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Mistress of the Inn
April 3 - May 2, 2015
Love, Seduction and Chocolate.
By: Carlo Goldini
Literal Translation by: Lisa Gottreich
Adapted and Directed by: Timothy Near
At the heart of the story is the feisty Mirandolina. The death of Mirandolina's father left her the sole proprietor of a successful, high-end inn. Her prosperity, confidence, unpredictability and independent spirit, have every man she meets wanting her as his exclusive hostess. Each thinks he has something to offer her, but whether that something will meet her need to be "stirred, cherished, adored and respected" (as well as retaining her freedom and independence) is another matter and the arc around which the plot revolves.
The chief competitors for Mirandolina's affections are the Marchese di Forlipopoli and the Count of Albafiorita. The first trades on his aristocratic background to compensate for his lost youth and wealth, the second tries to buy her love with gifts (as he's apparently also bought his title). A third boarder, Cavaliere di Ripafratta is an avowed woman-hater and thus would seem to be no suitor at all. A letter from someone offering to find him a wife has him declaring "A wife?! I'd sooner have malaria!"
Not surprisingly, the Cavaliere’s misogynist attitude towards women is a challenge to Mirandolina. She's a modern eighteenth century woman, and she can’t let him leave until she changes his attitude. And so she goes to battle: "If he's not in love with me by tomorrow may my nose fall off."
There's also her right hand man at her inn, Fabrizio. Without title or money, but deeply loyal. He is, like Mirandolina, a pragmatist who knows that "sometimes you have to look the other way and let a few things slip by”. He respects her and loves her and is trying to be a modern guy and is in love with his boss.
Two delightful actresses arrive at the Inn. They are escaping from their commedia dell'arte troupe and Mirandolina finds a way for them to use their talents to help her with her plan to give the Cavaliere an attitude adjustment.
But the Cavaliere is an obsessive man and when he shifts his dislike for all women to the love of a single woman, his shift is extreme and Mirandolina finds herself in hot water. The characters in the play learn that obsession is dangerous and the goal is to find balance. Mirandolina has to decide if she can be a free, independent business woman and also have love in her life.
Unlike Molière (who whose stock characters inspired Goldoni to replace the masked characters of conventional commedia dell'arte with more naturalistic comedies about ordinary people), Goldoni loved women and saw them as a miraculous force. For Goldoni, women were the very heart of Italy. Mirandolina may be a bit of a schemer, but her creator viewed her with affection. Her very name translates into "The Little Miracle".
PERIOD, LOCATION, STYLE: We will be setting the play in 1750s at an Inn on the outskirts of Florence. The text will include occasional Italian words and phrases and should be spoken with good Italian pronunciation. The character of The Marchese may have an Italian accent. The rest of the character will speak Standard American. This play is Goldoni’s move away from the Commedia form. There are certainly a number of nods to commedia in this play, especially in the roles of Ortensia and Dejanira and the Cavaliere’s Servant but Goldoni was very interested in writing real people with real feelings and motivations. The “asides” are occasionally to oneself, but can also be used as very intimate direct address to audience. The monologues are to the audience.
An actress in her early 20’s working in the Commedia theatre troupe. She has also temporarily broken away from the troupe and is traveling with Ortensia. It’s all very daring and exciting for her. As an actress she usually plays a soubrette so she’s a little out of her league playing a grand lady at Mirandolina’s Inn. She has a problem with getting the giggles when under stress.
Side Side with marchese
The Cavaliere's Servant
A pleasant fellow. Late 40s/early 50s. He has been with the Cavaliere since his first marriage and knows how the Cavaliere doesn’t like women. He is extremely competent and knows how to handle Cavaliere’s moods. He adores Mirandolina. It would be useful if the actor who plays this role has had some experience and training in Commedia.