Stills of The Servant of Two Masters|
Clive Francis, Graham Crowden and Julia Lockwood.
A Servant to Two Masters (Arlecchino servitore di due padroni) is a comedy by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni written in 1753. This play begins with the character Beatrice, who has traveled to Venice disguised as her dead brother in search of the man who killed him: her lover, Florindo. Her brother forbade her to marry Florindo, and died defending her honor.
Beatrice disguises herself like him so that she can collect dowry money from Pantalone, the father of Clarice, her brother's betrothed. She wants to use this money to help her lover escape, and to allow them to finally wed. But thinking that Beatrice's brother was dead, Clarice became engaged to another man: Silvio, and the two have quite fallen in love. Interested in keeping up appearances, Pantalone tries to conceal the existence of each from the other.
Beatrice's servant, Truffaldino, is the hero of this play. He is always complaining of an empty stomach, and always trying to fulfill his hunger. When the opportunity presents itself to be servant to another master (coincidentally Florindo) he sees the opportunity not for trouble, but for two dinners instead of one! As Truffaldino runs around Venice trying to fill the orders of two masters, he is almost uncovered several times, especially because other characters repeatedly hand him letters, money, etc. and say simply "this is for your master." Poor Truffaldino doesn't know to which master these things are to go! Not to mention the fact that Beatrice and Florindo are staying in the same hotel, and each searching for the other.
In the end, with Clarice's and Smeraldina's (Pantalone's feisty servant who is smitten with Truffaldino) help, Beatrice and Florindo finally find each other, and with Beatrice exposed as a woman, Clarice is allowed to marry Silvio. The last matter up for discussion is whether Truffaldino and Smeraldina can get married, and this finally exposes the fact that Truffaldino had been playing both sides all along! But everyone has just decided to get married, so Truffaldino is forgiven.
The most famous set piece of the play is a scene where a starving Truffaldino tries to serve a banquet to the entourages of both his masters without either group becoming aware of the other, while desperately trying to satisfy his own hunger at the same time.
This page last updated February 25, 2007