Shakespeare Theatre Presents: The Servant of Two Masters

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - Sunday, June 24, 2012

Delightful and delicious, The Servant of Two Masters is filled to the brim with music, dance and laughter. Mayhem erupts when a wily servant hatches a crafty scheme to double his wages by serving two masters at once.

It is a bright morning in Venice, and the young couple, Silvio and Clarice, has just been given permission to marry. Clarice had previously been engaged to another man, Federigo Rasponi, but his sudden death has freed her to marry her true love. Clarice's father Pantalone, Silvio's father Doctor Lombardi and the innkeeper Brighella stand by as witnesses. A knock at the door interrupts the happy scene. Smeraldina, Clarice's maid, brings in Truffaldino, a quirky servant with disastrous news—his master, Federigo Rasponi, isn't dead after all! And he's here in Venice! A man enters, declaring himself to be Federigo Rasponi and demanding to marry Clarice. Pantalone feels obliged to uphold the original engagement, much to the distress of his daughter, Silvio and Doctor Lombardi.

Meanwhile, the innkeeper Brighella draws Federigo aside—and reveals that he recognizes Federigo's true identity. The person dressed as Federigo is actually Beatrice, Federigo's sister. Federigo was indeed killed in a duel by Beatrice's fiancé, Florindo, who then fled to Venice. Beatrice has followed him, hoping to collect her brother's money from Pantalone. Outside the inn, the always-hungry Truffaldino waits in the street fantasizing about food. His master Federigo—who he has no idea is really Beatrice—doesn't feed him nearly enough. Therefore, he decides that the best course would be to find another master to serve as well. Two masters, double the food! At just this moment a man enters, struggling with his luggage: it is Florindo. Truffaldino offers to serve him, and Florindo agrees. The servant Truffaldino now has two masters.

Truffaldino's first job for his masters is to go to the post office for their mail. Unfortunately, Truffaldino can't read, and the letters get mixed up. Florindo reads Beatrice's letter and learns that she's in Venice dressed as a man. Delighted, he runs off to find her. Pantalone arrives with a bag of money, which he hands to Truffaldino for his "master." Truffaldino doesn't know which "master" Pantalone means and mistakenly gives it to Florindo, though it was intended for Federigo. Meanwhile, Clarice begs her father to release her from the engagement to Federigo. The disguised Beatrice arrives and asks to speak with Clarice in private. Once they are alone, Beatrice reveals her true identity. Clarice is greatly relieved and tells her father that she will now consent to marry "Federigo." Unfortunately, Silvio doesn't know the happy news. Enraged at the loss of his love, he attacks Pantalone and accuses Clarice of being faithless. Deeply hurt, Clarice prepares to kill herself. Luckily, her maid Smeraldina arrives just in time to stop her.

At last it's time for lunch. Both Florindo and "Federigo" order their meals at the same time, and Truffaldino finds himself in a jam. Can he keep both masters satisfied while also finding time to stuff his own face? Smeraldina arrives, and Truffaldino, who had previously noticed the pretty maid, declares his love for her. He discovers that she feels the same. More mix-ups lead Beatrice and Florindo to believe that the other one is dead. In despair, they run out of the inn at the same time, ready to take their own lives. But just as they are about to plunge in the knives, they see... each other! They embrace, delirious with joy. Silvio and Clarice are reunited, and even Truffaldino is forgiven for daring to try to serve two masters at once. Oh, happiness, once more!

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