THE PICTURE

ARGUMENT

A Company of actors was performing in Parma, and the principal actress, as was the custom, was visited by one of the noblest cavaliers of the town. She took from around his neck a very beautiful locket of gold, which hung from a chain. In it was the picture of a beautiful married lady who had given it to the cavalier, whose name was Oratio. While they conversed, the actress, who was called Victoria, deftly removed the picture from the locket. She returned the locket and chain to the cavalier, and at the end of the visit they parted, she to her room, and he to his home. It happened that not many days later, the husband of the aforementioned lady came to visit the actress. Not knowing the gentleman, she showed him the picture of his own wife. He was dumbfounded and demanded to know the name of the person who gave the picture to her. The actress told him. The husband, whose name was Pantalone, pretended not to know the lady, and taking his leave, returned home in a rage, determined to kill his adulterous wife. At home his wife made up a convincing story and placated him. Meanwhile she enjoyed her lover, and the husband himself, by a strange coincidence, led the lover to his own door.

CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY

Pantalone, a Venetian

Isabella, his wife

Pedrolino, servant of the house

Doctor Gratiano

Flaminia, his wife

Oratio, a gentleman of Parma

Flavio, his friend

Captain Spavento

Arlecchino, his servant

Victoria, an actress

Piombino, an actor

Lesbino, a page, then Silvia Milanese

ACT ONEThe City of Parma

Isabella

Pedrolino

Isabella speaks of the uproar between her husband and herself because he saw her picture in the possession of an actress to whom it was given by Oratio; and, afraid that Oratio has lost his love for her, she sends Pedrolino to get said picture from Oratio. Pedrolino says she is not to blame and consoles her. She goes into the house, and Pedrolino goes to find Oratio commenting that Oratio does wrong to betray a lady who, for his sake, risks the honor of herself and her husband. He goes.

Capt. Spavento

Arlecchino

Captain Spavento enters, telling his servant Arlecchino that he will be going more and more to the theatre if Signora Victoria, his love, is playing; he does not want to leave Parma for Naples until he has enjoyed her favor. Arlecchino remarks that he is wasting his time, for such women are not to be obtained as easily as men believe.

Lesbino

Lesbino, the page, that is Silvia Milanese, the captain’s inamorata, sees him, and with the permission of Arlecchino, is to accompany them as page. The Captain tells Arlecchino to talk to Piombino, interpreter for Signora Victoria, and Spavento leaves with the page. Arlecchino remains.

Flaminia

Flaminia appears at her window and calls to Arlecchino, whom she doesn’t know, asking him to do her a favor by taking a letter to a gentleman named Flavio, whose practice it is to walk in the piazza where the gentlemen gather. Arlecchino takes the letter and promises to deliver it. Flaminia gives him a couple of gold coins, and withdraws. Arlecchino stands staring up at Flaminia’s window.

Dr. Gratiano

Gratiano, Flaminia’s husband, enters, and seeing him staring up at her window and seeing the letter, becomes suspicious and asks him what he is looking for and from whom is the letter. Arlecchino says it was given to him by one Flavio to give to a woman. Gratiano takes it from him, beats him, and calls him a pimp.

Pantalone

Pantalone comes between them. Arlecchino, about to leave, looks at the old men and says, "Do what you can, because you are a cuckold," and he goes off. Puzzled, the old men look at each other and say, "I don’t know if he was talking to me or you." Finally they discuss their suspicion of their wives—Gratiano about Flavio, and Pantalone about Oratio—on account of a certain picture.

Flavio

Flavio arrives. Gratiano immediately and accusingly gives him the letter and scolds him. Flavio receives it humbly, and the old men go. Flavio opens the letter and discovers it is from Flaminia, who hotly demands that he go no more to the theatre; he gives in to her request and makes a signal toward Flaminia’s window.

Flaminia

Flaminia, understanding the sign, comes to the window, sees him, and they argue.

Isabella

Isabella appears at her window, and remains to hear how Flavio makes excuses to Flaminia; then she advises Flaminia not to trust the traitor, and that she is right in her suspicions. Both women withdraw without saying anything more. Flavio is dumb-founded and then sighs, "Oh poor Flavio."

Arlecchino

Arlecchino, hearing him say Flavio, asks him if he is Flavio, the lover of Flaminia. When Flavio answers yes, Arlecchino declares he is going to pass on to him the beating he got on his account, but as he raises his stick to beat him, Flavio draws his sword. Arlecchino flees, with Flavio chasing him.

Oratio

Pedrolino

Oratio enters and says that he cannot return the picture that Isabella wants because it is at the goldsmith’s, who is repairing the locket. Pedrolino smiles slyly. The he asks how long it has been since Oratio’s been to the play, asking him about all there is to be seen and finally about Signora Victoria. Oratio becomes suspicious.

Isabella

Isabella comes out on a pretext and demands her picture. Oratio makes excuses. She calls him a traitor and tells him she knows very well that he loves the actress to whom he gave the picture; she reproaches him for all she has done for him and says that for that reason and because of the picture, her husband wanted to kill her. Enraged, she calls Pedrolino and goes into the house without listening to what Oratio has to say. Pedrolino turns to Oratio, accusing him of wronging his master, and goes in. Oratio laments to himself the arrival of the company of actors, saying only evil things of them; finally he speaks ill of Victoria, who has brought him only danger and unhappiness.

Capt. Spavento

Arlecchino

The Captain enters, and hearing him speak ill of the actors and of Victoria, defends them, saying that the theatre is a noble entertainer, and Signora Victoria is an honored lady; Oratio, enraged, declares he lies. They draw their swords; then the Captain asks Oratio if he wants to die with him; Oratio says yes. The Captain then replies that he is going to write down their agreement, including the pardon for whatever the outcome, because if it happens that he kills Oratio, he does not want to be tried for it in court. Furthermore, he is going to write it so that whoever kills the other will not be molested by the law. He strides off. Arlecchino remarks that the Captain wants to get out of a great deal, and follows him off. Oratio also follows.

 

ACT TWO

Victoria

Piombino

Victoria, the actress, richly dressed in gold chains, bracelets, pearls, diamonds, and ruby rings, accompanied by Piombino, enters and praises the city of Parma, the Duke, and the court, and speaks of the infinite courtesy of they receive from the gentleman of Parma.

Pedrolino

Pedrolino comes from the house and hails them. She asks after Pantalone, his master. Pedrolino says he is not at home, exhorting her to love him for being a man of merit.

Isabella

Isabella appears at her window and remains to watch. Pedrolino, seeing her, continues to praise Pantalone’s experience and again recommends him to her. Victoria asks where Gratiano’s house is. Pedrolino points it out and praises him also as a man of deserving wealth, generous and liberal with women.

Pantalone

Pantalone arrives. Seeing Isabella at the window, he restrains himself from greeting Victoria. She, on leaving, asks Pedrolino to say hello to Pantalone for her. She goes. Isabella withdraws from the window. Pedrolino says in an aside that he will play the go between for the actress with Pantalone, making him believe that she is in love with him. Worried, Pantalone speaks of his suspicion of his wife because of the picture. Pedrolino pacifies him by saying that there are many people who carry pictures from this person to that, asking for nothing more than to have a picture of a beautiful woman. Pantalone, relieved of his suspicion, says he wants to send a gift to the actress Signora Victoria, and they go off together.

Oratio

Flavio

Oratio enters and laments with Flavio Isabella’s picture falling into the hands of the actress Victoria. Flavio promises to speak to Isabella for him; Oratio offers to speak to Flaminia for him.

Arlecchino

Arlecchino enters with a letter. Seeing Oratio, he tells him it is the agreement and the pardon, which the Captain sends to him. Oratio, enraged, hits him and sends him off. Flavio knocks at Isabella’s door.

Isabella

Isabella comes out, and Flavio begs her to listen to what Oratio has to say for himself. She finally agrees to listen.

Arlecchino

As Oratio begins to speak to her, Arlecchino arrives and immediately tells Oratio that if he does not leave off loving the actress Victoria, the Captain will kill him without more ado, and he exits. Isabella at once calls Oratio a traitor, saying that he cannot deny that he is in love with that travelling whore, and enraged, she goes into the house without listening to what he has to say. Oratio, desperate, says he is going to kill the Captain and then himself. Flavio tries to console him.

Pedrolino

Pedrolino arrives and from Oratio learns all that has occurred with Isabella; Oratio appeals to Pedrolino for help. Pedrolino says to leave everything to him; he will work it all out. He Knocks.

Isabella

Isabella comes out. Pedrolino begs her to be reconciled with Oratio. She acts coy. Pedrolino says that everyone must stay where they are for their own good; then he knocks on Flaminia’s door.

Flaminia

Flaminia comes out, and she acts coy. Pedrolino tells the young men to speak their piece. Oratio speaks at great length, placates Isabella, and they make up. Flavio does the same with Flaminia, and they too make up. Pedrolino informs them all that the two old husbands are in love with the actress, and this will give the lovers a chance to enjoy themselves. Isabella says that she will not make up with Oratio until he gets the picture back from the actress, but she does not want him to go back to her to get it. Pedrolino sympathizes with Isabella’s feeling and says he will visit the actress and get it. Isabella goes into the house. The young lovers leave. Flaminia asks Pedrolino to help her out. Then she sees Gratiano coming.

Dr. Gratiano

Gratiano arrives, and Pedrolino immediately begins arguing with Flaminia saying, "I know if your husband goes to the theatre or where he goes." Flaminia understands what Pedrolino is doing. She pretends to be jealous of her husband, and calling him a knave, goes into the house. Gratiano, who has stopped to listen, approaches Pedrolino, who tells him the actress Victoria has been at this house and asked after him, and for that reason his wife scolded him. He says that the actress is in love with him.

Piombino

Piombino arrives and greets Gratiano in the name of Signora Victoria, for whom he wants to borrow a silver basin, and a pot for the play that is to be presented. Gratiano says he will send them by Pedrolino. Piombino tells Gratiano that Signora Victoria is in love with him, and because of him alone, she despises other gentlemen who court her in her house and in the theatre. Gratiano rejoices heartily, and, promising Piombino a fine gift, goes into the house. Pedrolino and Piombino agree to get as much money as they can from the old men, and split it between them. Then they go off.

Capt. Spavento

Lesbino

The Captain enters and says he can’t stand still until the time comes for the play because of the great love he has for the actress Victoria. Lesbino tries to persuade him to leave that love, saying that it is not good for his honor or his reputation to love a travelling actress whose profession takes her all over the country. Then she asks if he had ever been in love before. The Captain says yes, that in Milan he loved a very beautiful young woman whom he could not hope for because her father wanted her to marry someone else.

Arlecchino

Arlecchino enters and tells the Captain that Signora Victoria is in the goldsmith’s shop; if he wants to see her, he is to go with him. Happy, the Captain confides to Lesbino that he could tell him many things about that woman in Milan, but that a new love calls him elsewhere, and he goes. Lesbino asks Arlecchino if he would be offended by one who took the life of his master. Arlecchino, enraged, says that he would kill him without more ado. Lesbino tells him the whole story of his love for Silvia, who has sent him to kill the Captain, adding that if he is as faithful a servant of the Captain as he says he is, he would rightly kill him, because he has come to kill his master. Shocked, Arlecchino declares he does not want to kill him, but he wants to prevent Lesbino from killing the Captain; then, excited, he gives a loud cry.

Isabella

Isabella appears at her window.

Flaminia

Flaminia appears at her window. They hear Arlecchino call Lesbino a villain and beat him; then Arlecchino leaves. Lesbino weeps over his bad fortune. She reveals that she is a woman who loves the Captain very much, but he does not love her. Instead, he has a new love, the actress, whom she wishes to kill with her sword.

Arlecchino

Arlecchino returns and sneaks up behind Lesbino to kill him. The women rush out and stop him, drive him away, disarm Silvia, and take her into Flaminia’s house.

 

ACT THREE

Victoria

Piombino

Victoria and Piombino say they have been to dinner at the house of a gentleman who loves Victoria and have been given fine gifts. They mention particular gifts given to players in most of the principal cities of Italy in which she too was favored by many gifts. Finally, she revels in how she tricks and laughs at those lovers who give her nothing. Piombino urges her to love no one, but to attend to the business of acquiring some wealth for her old age.

Pedrolino

Pedrolino arrives. Victoria and Piombino fondle him, saying they want to make him an actor. Pedrolino protests he doesn’t have any talent. Hearing his master, he hides back stage.

Pantalone

Pantalone arrives. Victoria thanks him for the beautiful present and says that night she will see him at the theatre before the play begins, because she wants to give him something that will be very dear to him. Pantalone promises to come and withdraws.

Flavio

Flavio greets Victoria and she, Flavio. He is nervous and would like to leave before Flaminia sees them, but Victoria holds him back with amorous speech.

Flaminia

Flaminia appears at her window has sees Flavio talking to the actress. She comes out enraged, gives Flavio a slap, then runs back into the house. Flavio, putting his hand to his cheek leaves without saying another word. Victoria laughs.

Pantalone

Pantalone returns and scolds Flaminia, as she runs, for her shameless behavior, and brags that he has a modest well-behaved wife; then he sees Victoria, and again they speak words of courtesy.

Isabella

Isabella comes out and scolds her husband because he plays the lecher with all women, sometimes staying five or six months without sleeping with his wife. She adds that, further more, with all his defects, he doesn’t deserve to mount her. Embarrassed, Pantalone runs off. Isabella then turns to Victoria and snaps that if she were on the same level as the actress, she would give her a piece of her mind and then goes back into the house. Victoria laughs, saying that when the company of players come to town, married women are many times left with their tongues hanging.

Pedrolino

Pedrolino, who has heard everything, comes forward and laughs.

Dr. Gratiano

Gratiano arrives. Pedrolino says to Victoria, "Look, here is another pigeon to be plucked." Victoria complains to Gratiano that she doesn’t see him and she despises all her other lovers for him alone; and she pretends to weep. Piombino tells Gratiano that Pantalone has sent a gift of a pearl necklace, but in order not to wrong him, she would not accept it, saying that Signor Gratiano would by a more beautiful, a more valuable one. Gratiano, happy, promises to do great things for Victoria, and Piombino reminds him of the basin and vessel of silver for the play that is to be played that night. Gratiano says that he will send them later with Pedrolino. With lewd talk, he takes leave of Victoria, taking Pedrolino away with him. Victoria and Piombino laugh at his simple wit.

Oratio

Oratio enters, greets Victoria, and asks for his picture. She laughs at him, saying she has no idea what he is talking about and leaves. Oratio remains, bemoaning the situation.

Isabella

Isabella, who from her window saw him talking to Victoria, scolds him again. Oratio vainly makes excuses.

Arlecchino

Arlecchino enters and tells Oratio that Isabella has shown a passion for him, but now she is in love with his master’s page, and between her, and Flaminia they are going to sleep with him. Isabella confirms this to make him sorry. She then calls Flaminia, telling her to bring her new lover to the window.

Flaminia

Lesbino

Flaminia, understanding Isabella’s desire to make Oratio suffer, calls Lesbino to the window, who says, "You command me, Signora." Oratio, seeing him, is enraged. He quarrels with Isabella and Flaminia.

Pantalone

Pantalone arrives. Oratio and Arlecchino exit. He asks the cause of all the noise. Isabella tells him that Oratio wanted to remove the page by force. Pantalone is enraged at the young man, asking what did he intend? Isabella explains that the page is a young woman named Silvia Milanese who is in love with the Captain. She disguised herself in order to follow him, and she found him here in Parma in love with an actress. Perhaps this same actress is Pantalone’s goddess. Pantalone is humiliated. Isabella explains that the poor girl, in desperation, wanted to kill herself, so she and Flaminia took her in. Now as a favor they want Pantalone to find the Captain, who always goes to the theatre. To see Sylvia and the Captain brought peacefully together, Pantalone agrees to go to that night to the play, saying he will do this favor gladly. Meanwhile, he says, Isabella must take charge of the young woman. The women withdraw from their windows. Pantalone remarks that this is a fine opportunity for him to go to the play without his wife’s suspecting him, and he goes off.

Pedrolino

Pedrolino enters, saying he has had the silver basin and vessel all along because he wanted to give them to the actress himself to coax her to stay.

Isabella

Isabella comes out and relates to Pedrolino what happened with Oratio. Then she tells him Lesbino is really Silvia, who loves the Captain. She begs Pedrolino to work things out so that Silvia will marry the Captain. Pedrolino has Isabella call her.

Flaminia

Lesbino

Flaminia and Lesbino come out. Flaminia laments the slap she gave Flavio on account of the actress, but Pedrolino comforts her saying he will remedy everything.

Arlecchino

Arlecchino arrives. Pedrolino is friendly to him and reveals Silvia, who is in love with his master. Arlecchino greets her, and they all agree to trick the Captain in order to make Silvia happy.

Oratio

Oratio enters, and seeing Lesbino, his successor, draws his sword, intending to kill him. The women laugh and mock him for drawing his weapon on a woman. When Oratio learns about Silvia, he is pacified and begs their pardon.

Flavio

Flavio complains to Flaminia about the slap. Pedrolino tries to bring them together saying that they can enjoy themselves in bed that night until the play is over, that it will go on until six that night. They can do what other women do while their silly husbands enjoy themselves at the play. He sends them all into Isabella’s house. He instructs Isabella to put Lesbino, undressed, in the room on the ground floor. Agreed, they all go into the house except Pedrolino and Arlecchino.

Capt. Spavento

The Captain arrives. Arlecchino withdraws. Pedrolino steps forward and tells the Captain he has the opportunity to enjoy the actress, saying she has been in Pantalone’s house since four, without his wife’s knowing anything about it. Pedrolino takes him by the hand and leads him into the house, leaving Arlecchino.

Pedrolino

Pedrolino returns, saying he has accommodated the Captain according to his need. He warns Arlecchino that he must be on the lookout for the arrival of the old men, and they sit down on the ground.

A Cardsharp

A cardsharp enters with a lantern and sees the two servants. He begins to weep, pretending to have lost a great deal of money at cards [game called Gleeke] and to have been left with only ten gold florins. The servants invite him to play, and he sits down with them. The cardsharp wins the money and clothes of Pedrolino and Arlecchino, leaving them in their underwear, and goes happily off. The servants bemoan their bad luck, and hear a great deal of noise coming from the theatre.

Pantalone

Dr. Gratiano

Piombino

Victoria

Pantalone, Gratiano, and Piombino run on, fleeing from a great fight in the theatre and between them holding Victoria, who appeals for help, she being the cause of the quarrel.

Gentlemen

Gallants

Gentlemen and Gallants rush on with their swords drawn, looking for Victoria. They see her between Pantalone and Gratiano and beat them with the flats of their swords. They take Victoria away and lead her off. Piombino, in desperation, follows them off. Pantalone and Gratiano are surprised to see the servants in their underwear. They all agree that plays are good pastimes and good entertainment, but they breed much scandal. They knock on Pantalone’s door to tell the women they have not found the Captain in order to tell him about Lesbino/Silvia who is in love with him.

Isabella

Flaminia

Isabella and Flaminia enter, inquiring if the play is over. Pantalone explains a fight disrupted it and so they did not see the Captain. Isabella answers that he is in the house with Silvia because Pedrolino tricked him into believing that the actress was waiting there for Pantalone. And because she and Flaminia were afraid that the Captain, seeing himself tricked, would make trouble, they asked Signor Oratio and Signor Flavio to stay in the house with them a while and play cards. Pantalone assures her that she acted wisely; then they hear arguing within.

Capt. Spavento

Oratio

Flavio

The Captain, from within, cries that he was betrayed. Oratio and Flavio try to quiet him; but he refuses to be pacified, and all come out. Pantalone and Gratiano plead with him; finally he is placated, saying that Silvia is the daughter of a rich Milanese merchant and he loved her; but the actress had bewitched him into forgetting about her. He is content to marry her. Isabella and Flaminia urge their husbands to leave off going to the theatre and to attend to their households and to their wives; the men say they will do that. They call Silvia.

Lesbino

Lesbino, that it Silvia, comes out to be married to the Captain. Pantalone and Gratiano want to give a banquet in Pantalone’s house to celebrate. They all go in to supper.

Finito.